for creative adventures
.-;'. ' ;'.
". •'■ " '- .-; •• *■ ' '•
November-December, No. 25, 1979
IN THIS ISSUE
SPECIAL STELLAR CONQUEST ISSUE
5 STELLAR CONQUEST
Third Time Around
* Howard Thompson
7 IN/MICA L WA YS TO PLA Y STEL LA R CONQUEST
Strategies for a classic
* James G. Branaum
10 EXPANDING YOUR STELLAR CONQUESTS
Another look at Stellar Conquest
* Frank B. Weir, Jr.
12 ORDER OUT OF CHAOS
Benefit Cost Analysis in Wargaming
* Glenn L. Williams
16 AG A IN, HA RMONIOUS FISTS
More Far East fighting
* David James Ritchie
20 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MICROS
A short Story
* 77m So/is
* W. G. Armm trout
22 STA R FLEET BA TTL ES
* Kenneth W. Burke
23 EVER YD A Y L IFE IN TFT
How about a mall over there?
26 THE UNWRITTEN RULES OF RIVETS
* Roland Parenteau
WHERE WE'RE GOING
1978 FEEDBACK RESULTS
NEWS & PLUGS
ART IN THIS ISSUE
. . . 3
Will McLean 6,7,
. . 11
. . 17
. . 22
. . 24
. . 26
. . 27
. . 30
C. Ben Ostrander
THE SPACE GAMER Is published bi-monthly
by Matagamlng. 3100-A Industrial Tarrace,
Austin, TX 78759. SUBSCRIPTION information,
changes of address, orders, and all mailed material
to Metagaming, P.O. Box 15346, Austin, TX
78761. All material copyright © 1979 by THE
SPACE GAMER. All rights reserved for material
accepted for publication unless Initially specified
and agreed otherwise. News Items and product
announcements subject to editorial whim. SUB-
SCRIPTIONS: six issues, S8; twelve issues, $15.
Base rate for unsolicited manuscripts is one cent
per word; they must be typed, double spaced, and
contain return postage. Base rate for art is $20
per average page size; interior art should be black
ink on heavy white paper. Second class postage
paid at Austin, Texas.
ere Metis Cooing 1
STELLAR CONQUEST and GODSFIRE
have now been re-issued as boxed games.
Unlike the first delivery of boxes, these are
compatible with our components. Also, these
boxes are correctly sized; covers are true
full-color. The counters are excellent quality
printing and cutting. That's at least some
consolation for an extra six months' wait.
By the time you read this, your local stores
ought to have STELLAR CONQUEST and
THE FANTASY TRIP: IN THE LABY-
RINTH is now in the production phase. Before
Steve Jackson left for North Americon, rules
had been typeset. There is one problem. We'd
originally expected 60-80 pages of material for
the rules. What we have will probably work out
to 140-150 pages. The component budget
will have to give somewhere else to accomodate
this wealth of material.
Despite length, gamers won't be faced with
unplayability or tedious complexity. Most of
the rules are actually tables of creatures, magic
spells, fighter talents and stocking for the part
of the labyrinth provided. Actual rules for play
are proportionally small and in some cases,
rehash necessary portions of MELEE and
Don't order TFT: ITL yet. Price still isn't
certain, though under $20 is the target. Release
date hasn't been set.
The next two Micros are HOT SPOT and a
double title, ANNIHILATOR/ONEWORLD.
Both will retail for $2.95. HOT SPOT is a fast
playing game with a few interesting wrinkles.
A fleet fleeing the Terran Empire needs refuel-
ing. The only available source is the molten
mining world of Chiros. The raid must capture
some of the floating production Crustals to
save the fleet. The defender has control of
Crustal movement and the attacker's units
must succeed before melting.
ANNIHILATOR concerns a demolition
team's effort to destroy the central brain of
a cybernetic space fort. The simulation in-
cludes landing, break-in, battle in corridors
with robots and repair units, and nuclear
charges. ONEWORLD allows players to deter-
mine which of two gods will dominate. Each
has his children, in the aspects of Stone, Blade
and Fog. The Singing Grasses, Towers of
Balance, Crystal Pylons and Faults of Chaos
all play a role in the struggle. ONEWORLD
combat is diceless.
ANNIHILATOR/ONEWORLD were each a
bit light for separate Micro production, so we
decided to put them into one package. We'd
rather give you a two for one and have a good
seller than give you less than the usual quality
METAGAMING is expanding into historical
MicroGames. One such game about the Second
World War will be ready in early 1980. Yeh,
it's an overworked area, but there aren't many
games which cover the entire European theatre
and can be played to completion in a few
hours. This is NOT a monster game, just a
playable, fun game. Various scenarios will
allow the system to function for conflicts
anywhere in the 1930-50 time span. A second
historical Micro being planned will be about
Rommel's Afrika Korps. The scale is unit
tactical, but fairly clean and simple.
A lunar tactical game is also in the works. It
includes an alien scenario. Steve has already
roughed-out an infantry combat game based
in the OGRE universe. You may have thought
the infantry in OGRE dull; Steve thought
otherwise, and you will too.
Now that IN THE LABYRINTH is near
completion, the backlog of MicroQuests based
on THE FANTASY TRIP will begin to flow.
Watch for them.
Planned is a sequel to our summer hit,
INVASION OF THE AIR EATERS. This
untitled game will cover combat in the inner
solar system with separate maps for a number
of planets and moons. Also included will be an
inner solar system orbit map for planet and
spaceship movement. Jupiter is a base for the
Air Eaters. There may be some multi-player
scenarios developed by publication time.
METAGAMING's space role-playing system
is now well along in playtesting. The method
of handling characters has undergone a major
revision, giving them more life. Expect to
see the first Micro in this system to be pub-
lished in early 1980. The gamemaster seg-
ments are being designed concurrently with the
character combat and spaceship modules.
We don't want the long delay that hit the
release of the gamemaster's material for THE
WIZARD, DEATH TEST, OLYMPICA,
and G.E.V. will all be reprinted soon. You'll
see the new editions after Christmas. OLYM-
PICA will get some clean-up on rules and a
new map. If you liked it before, then the new
edition will be worth your time. Two of the
other three reprints will feature new covers and
some minor copy changes. Those of you who
liked the Roger Stine cover on the last edition
of MELEE will appreciate his new effort for
Keith Gross, who brought us INVASION
OF THE AIR EATERS and ICE WAR, has
joined Metagaming's staff full time as designer
and games editor. This should mean an in-
creased and steady flow of games to market.
Now that we've got a competent box and
counter manufacturer, delays of that type will
not be a problem. Of course, there will always
be other problems
Our recent efforts to publish material for
thought-provoking insight were poorly received.
Readers didn't like the psychology piece or
the recent "editorial". Response was moderate-
ly well received. Perhaps THE SPACE GAMER
shouldn't attempt to be more than entertain-
ment for gamers. There is certainly more
profit in entertainment than in thought. You'll
see more of Response in the future, but no
Every time I pick up a new issue of a game
related magazine, there seem to be more and
more new firms. There are board game firms,
miniature firms and subsidiary product firms.
Many have gone out of business in the last
year or have otherwise been revamped. What's
surprising is the flood of new firms when few
of the old really make any profit.
Heritage Models (see News & Plugs) is one
of the three largest firms in our industry.
Yet, without the change in ownership, it would
have failed. There are a lot of firms with good,
growing sales but little in the way of profits.
Why do so many people want to get into this
business? Beats the hell outa me. If Meta-
gaming had to start now, we wouldn't make
it. Many of the newer efforts won't either.
The exceptions will be those who have good
financing. They will survive for a time with
mediocre products, the best they seem capable
Frankly, I've lost track of what's happening
in the industry. I know what Metagaming
is doing, plus a few of the big firms' activities.
Beyond that, it's all a haze. Something unique
and truly great could come out and years
go by before I knew it. What will happen is
more fragmenting of gaming interests. Once,
you could own every game published. Then
you had to concentrate on historical or role
playing or whatever. It's going to fragment
even further in the 80's. Price range, age
range and game appeal will all become criteria
for splintered interests.
Well, that's it for this time. Our fall has
been super busy in all areas. The box problem
is now solved. A back log of projects that
seem to have been hanging forever is about
to bust loose. Those who've been with us the
whole way can stick around for 1980. After
all, Metagaming brought you the first science
fiction and fantasy game magazine, the inno-
vation of MicroGames, and the art standards
for the industry. Maybe we've got a few more
things up our sleeves
WAR IN HELL.
Chiros was a molten, planetary hell. It was also a vital
production center that the Technocrat rebels had to cap-
HOT SPOT is a tactical game about the Technocrat
raid on Chiros. The Ziegler Corporations maintains fragile,
floating platforms called crustals, that move through the
molten rock. The crustals are defended by infantry and
hovercraft. The technocrat attackers are strong, but they
must capture crustals quickly, before their attack platforms
break up and their units melt into the lava. You decide
the outcome in this fun and exciting game.
*24 page rules booklet
*12"x 14" map
*63 unit counters
19 "crustal" counters
TWO GAMES IN ONE.
OneWorld is the game of godly conflict for those who've dreamed
secretly of divine power. Each player is a god who must contend
with a pretentious challenger. Your "children" wage the struggle
in their aspects of Blade, Stone and Fog. Over the Singing Grasses,
Runelines, The Faults of Chaos and on the Crystal Pylons the
battle rages. OneWorld is a fast playing, humorous game, which
features a diceless combat system. This is an excellent game for
starters or an amusing diversion for the afficcianado.
ANNIHILATOR is a giant, planet-killing, computer-controlled
spaceship. Pan-Human Alliance assault squads and demolition
teams blast their way through the ship to get to Annihilator's brain
core. The ship has security robots, repairbots, and automatic
defenses to stop the humans. Like OneWorld, ANNIHILATOR
is a tense and exciting game.
*24 page rules booklet
*Two game maps
*129 unit counters
HOT SPOT and ANNIHILA TOR/ONEWORLD are available at your local hobby, toy, or
book stores-ask for them. Both are $2.95 when ordered from Metagaming. Subscribers to
THE SPACE GAMER pay $2.50. Each order requires a 50-cent postage charge.
Box 15346, Austin, TX 78761
Third Time Around
The third printing of STELLAR CON-
QUEST contains a few minor revisions from the
first two editions plus a new rules section. All
substantive changes and the new section are
covered or fully reproduced here. There is no
necessity to buy the new edition if you have
this article. The preface explains the reasons.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD PRINTING
STELLAR CONQUEST has become a minor
classic since its introduction in 1974. It was
among the very first science fiction simulation
games. It was the first simulation at the society
level. It is one of the few simulation games
still widely played four years after introduc-
tion. STELLAR CONQUEST has become the
standard by which other society level games
The popularity of STELLAR CONQUEST
with gamers is gratifying. It is praticularly
gratifying knowing that the Avalon Hill com-
pany rejected STELLAR CONQUEST in 1973.
STELLAR CONQUEST was the start of Meta-
gaming, then known as Metagaming Concepts.
It led to THE SPACE GAMER, our own
science fiction S fantasy game magazine.
It paved the way for the innovation of Micro-
Games. STELLAR CONQUEST proved ■■ama-
teurs" could compete with the established
In preparing STELLAR CONQUEST for a
third printing I've been surprised. The rules
and design hold up well compared to current
games. The decision not to revise the game
seems justified. You don't alter a classic. It
stands as a testament and example of its time.
CHANGES by Rules Section
4.2.2 This rule is modified to allow Star Card
data to be passed to other players, if desired.
It also now states that, "no details about a
colony are given at this time."
5.4.1 Added: "Players may route ships
around Gas/Dust cloud hexes if it results in a
6.1 Added: "Optionally, players may mu-
tually decide to resolve combats out of the
view of the uninvolved players."
7.2 Clarified so that players understand that a
conqueror receives all information about a
7.2.7 Clarified so that players understand the
conqueor still controls CTs loaded with con-
7.2.9 Changed so that 10 million or more
colonists must be destroyed on a planet to ren-
der it uninhabitable.
8.4.6 Deleted so that a CET Colony Transport
costs one IU of output, the same as a non-CET
126.96.36.199 In following example it is made clear
that NT is the predecessor development for
9.6 The with predecessor development cost of
CET is lowered from 30 I U to 25 IU.
11.0 A note is added that invites gamers to
create their own negotiation rules if they
don't like the "negotiation" rule.
12.0 TOURNAMENT SCENARIOS
Since 1974 STELLAR CONQUEST has become
a tournament favorite at gaming and science
fiction conventions. The most successful
format for tournaments has included a few
rules modifications and the use of different
starting scenarios. Those familiar with STEL-
LAR CONQUEST will find a new challenge
in these variations.
Three Player Scenarios: Often there are not
four players available. Three player scenarios
use only half the map and provide very compe-
titive play. The density of stars is 50% greater
than a four player game and starting positions
are closer. The dividing line on the map is be-
tween Canopus and Draconis. Canopus and Hy-
drae are on one half of the map and Mizar, Cru-
cis, Draconis and Zosca are on the other half of
Instead of starting at the entry hexes, players
start their fleets directly on a star. In this
instance Canopus is treated as a G class star
and matched with Can is and Ceti as the three
starting positions on one half of the map.
Draconis, Bootis and Scorpii are the starting
stars on the other half of the map.
Four Player Scenarios: These scenarios also
have players starting their fleets intact on a G
class star. The different starting positions
are as follows:
A. Scorpii, Ceti, Canis, and Bootis
B. Dubhe, Alcor, Diphda, and Tauri
C. Dubhe, Aurigae, Diphda, and Schedar
D. Aurigae, Lyrae, Capella, and Spica
Another effective scenario is the Nova scenario.
Each player starts his fleet on Draconis. On
turn one Draconis goes Nova and each player
must immediately move away. At the end of
turn two, any ship on Draconis or a hex adja-
cent to Draconis is automatically destroyed.
The rule for having no ship more than eight
hexes away from a base should not go into
effect until after turn six is over.
Another variation of the Nova scenario has the
Draconis system have an MT 40 NM planet
emerge at the start of turn twenty. In this
instance ships are destroyed through the end
of turn nineteen on or adjacent to Draconis.
Ships may move to Draconis on turn twenty
Tournament Considerations: All the scenarios
in this section are suitable for competitive play.
Varying starting positions give players a new
challenge. Starting on a star makes for faster
play. Listed below are some other rules that
have been used successfully in tournaments.
1. Let each player start the game with a
60 million or 80 million limit TR planet
at his starting star. This avoids uneven
starts due to players not finding a TR
2. Let players start the game with a three
hex ship movement instead of a two
hex ship movement.
3. Have games run for 36 year/turn instead
of 40. With fast starting games this
saves time and retains play balance.
4. Allow negotiation between between
players. This can be limited to situations
where both players have ships on the
same star hex. Negotiations should be
limited to being the first activity in a
Player Conduct: An enjoyable STELLAR
CONQUEST tournament takes advance pre-
paration by the tournament master. It also
requires cooperation of players and non-players
in their conduct of play. Players should be
allowed room and quiet sufficient for necessary
concentration. The following conduct guide-
lines have been used successfully in tourna-
1. Players must announce when they have
finished their turn and be ready to start
their turn when it becomes their turn.
2. Players may take breaks as needed pro-
vided they are ready to play when it
becomes their turn.
3. Players may agree to take breaks simul-
taneously after Production Years.
4. Non-players and players may not con-
verse at the play table while play is in
5. Spectators should not be allowed to
crowd around tables during play. The
play tables may even be roped off or
otherwise partially isolated. Spectators
should be able to get a view of play.
6. Players should not talk to other players
while conducting their moves.
7. A player's score for a game should be
entered on his Turn Sheet and be ini-
tialed by the other players in the game.
Turn Sheets for completed games should
be turned into the tournament master
after each game.
An orientation period should be held for
all players before the tournament starts.
Players should be allowed to ask ques-
tions then and during play when it is not
The tournament master should reserve
the right to interpret all rules and stand
by his ruling as final. Players who do
not conform ot the rules of the tourna-
ment should be disqualified from play if
deemed necessary. For minor violations
it may be sufficient to deduct points
from a player's game score.
lO.Tournament rounds should always start
on time. Those late should be allowed
to miss their moves. Those more than an
hour late should be disqualified from
further play in that game and given a
SOME STRATEGIES FOR STELLAR CONQUEST
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INIMICAL WAYS TO PLAY
This article is going to look at operational
parameters in the basic STELLAR CONQUEST
tournament game. These parameters were
applied to all games during several tournaments,
in one form or another, regardless of rule
changes or start-point changes. The basic
tournament game rules were published in
TSG no. 10 and are detailed in this issue.
The major changes in standard rules were as
1) All players started in their corners with
Terran 80 Systems, thirty-five million
people, four Escorts, and twenty-five
Industrial Units to spend.
2) Game procedure was changed to grow
population, then build.
3) Planetary Force Screens were priced
high enough to be unreachable, but
Super Missile Bases were added to
4) All Subterran Naturally Metalized Sys-
tems were removed from the game.
Also in the same TSG no. 10 article were
the operational concepts of "GM-ing" (General
Motors-ing), Population Shuffle, Starburst,
Grapevine, and Crispy Critter*. It was a very
interesting and useful article, however, every
one of the aforementioned concepts has its
major faults. Specifically, they consistently
lose in a game with experienced and competent
Under tournament rules, the Population
Shuffle is not as good as it looks. The chart
no. 1 shows growth rather than shuffle is more
productive, and it is substantially more cost
effective. With growth, the player has the
Industrial Units available at a certain location
to build a Dreadnaught; while with Shuffle at
the same point in population growth, the total
is spread out such that on standard Terran
Systems, the player must purchase lesser units.
"GM-ing" requires that other players do
not attack the subject prior to the completion
of a definite build period. To gamble on that
is to flip a one-sided coin.
In reality, the Starburst concept is wonder-
ful without reservation. The only catch to
being successful is survival and strength. With
that as a controlling factor, this becomes an
end-game consideration, rather than a midgame
strategy. If the game progresses along fairly
standard lines of conflict, Starburst usually
does not fit in. It is not needed, useful, or
cost effective. Simply eliminating all other
competition is more productive, more certain,
and generally, quicker.
James G. Branaum
Initially, Grapevine seems to be a great
way to insure a victory, or at least a second
place; however, in a reasonably standard game,
Grapevining is an invitation to disaster. The
potential of an opponent becoming very strong
very early in the game is so great that Grapevine
just becomes a different way to slow him down,
and usually not very well at that. The way to
avoid this appears to be larger colonies with
Missile Bases, or Advanced Missile Bases.
This change significantly lowers the effective-
ness of the Grapevine concept, and severely
damages the player's ability for on-site produc-
The initial Crispy Critter concept is great;
however, unmodified, it is an unqualified
disaster when used against a competent player.
The danger is in the viability of the ranging
colony, once the player's Task Force is out
of range of the home planet. If the opponent
fries the ranging planet population, the Task
Force is eliminated, the home planet unprotect-
ed, and the opponent has a distinct industrial
advantage immediately, without having to
take any other action. Nevertheless, there is an
important lesson which should be learned,
used, and lived with. Speed kills, and this
whole concept is based on speed of action.
However, there is also the consideration that
vacillation is suicide.
Improved versions of Crispy Critter are
simple to work out, effective, less risky, and
generally, psychologically devastating to the
opponent. They shall be dealt with later.
STELLAR CONQUEST is more than just
a 'war' game, and it is more than a game in
economics. It is actually a study in applied
logistics. The pervading concept is to "get
there the fastest with the mostest." It has
already been demonstrated that the Population
Shuffle is not worthwhile in this consideration
early in the game, with or without Naturally
Metalized Planets. Early development of any
Naturally Metalized System is now worthwhile
when the gains in population by simple growth
are compared to that total Industrial Unit
availability at any point in time prior to about
the twentieth turn in the game. After the
twentieth turn, the Shuffle is much more
productive, especially at minimum Terran
Naturally Metalized Systems.
To effect the capture of those population
centers, one may be interested in using Crispy
Critter as a tactic. As shown earlier, that does
have definite pitfalls. Avoiding those pitfalls
is what some of the improvements do, without
excessively increasing the risk of failure, or
leaving the player open to other attacks. An
interesting improvement is to buy two, rather
than three escorts; and nine, rather than one
Colony Transport. This enables the player to
build the extra Escort which would have been
bought, otherwise, at the Advance Base; and
protects that base by sheer numberical strength
in population. If one Colony Transport is
purchased at the Advance Base and sent to a
nearby system, it decreases the probability
of losing the attacking group because of ranging
planet elimination by two different methods.
The only problem with this sytem is the possi-
bility of phenomenally poor die rolls. Poor
die rolls can totally eliminate the surprise,
strength, and viability of the whole tactic.
To avoid the effects of those die rolls, the same
I") These concepts are reviewed in The Summary of this article.
A SUMMARY OF POPULAR STELLAR CONQUEST TOURNAMENT STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
*CRISPY CRITTER: Initial IU points are spent on Escorts. These, combined with the four original Escorts and one to
three Colony Transports in a Task Force, are immediately sent against the nearest opponent, dropping one million colonies
along the way in order to lengthen the Escort's range.
DELA YED CRISPER: The warship construction started in Entrenched Critter is continued until an attack can be launched
DREADNAUGHT CRISPER: All effort is devoted to buying a Dreadnaught on Turn 12, and that Dreadnaught is then
launched against an Escort-armed opponent.
*DUSTER: An attack squadron or a Dreadnaught is kept in the home area to intercept Scouts or Escorts before they can
visit the inner systems.
ENTRENCHED CRITTER: This popular defense against Crispy Critter consists of buying missile defenses and/or warships
early in the game and then staying on your home world. An attacking Crisper must live at the end of his supply line
while you stay on your source and outnumber him.
EXODUS: At the start of the game most of the home world population is exported, leaving only enough to build Missile
*"GM-ing" OR "GENERAL MOTORS": (used in conjunction with the Population Shuttle and a slow Grapevine.) As much
industry as possible is used to build more industry. Colonies on Minimum Terran Naturally Metalized worlds are the
ultimate tournament version of this.
*GRAPEVINE: In the last half of the game, small colonies (four million for an ST and five million for a TR) are spread
over all available TR's and ST's. Most of these colonies cannot be found and conquered before the end of the game.
Note that the TR colonies will grow, and can build Missile Bases.
IMPROVED CRISPY CRITTER (ICC): Similar to the original, except that the initial IU points are spent for two Escorts
and nine Colony Transports. These, along with the original Escorts in a Task Force, move to a staging world on your
border. A colony of nine million cannot be easily destroyed, and can produce front line units while the home world
reinforces the colony. This usually is combined with Scout Diversions, Trip Wire, Duster, and String Cutter.
OPERATION QUICK STRIKE (3-way Critter): The short board opponent is attacked, using ICC. Your own industry
sends Escorts to maintain control over your conquests, while industry is used to buy longer range and warships. These
capture-produced warships are launched against the short board opponent's long board opponent. Capture of the second
opponent will usually provide the industry to defeat the third opponent.
POPULATION SHUTTLE: Every fourth year, two TR or ST colonized worlds within eight hexes of one another ship each
other their population growth plus enough of their own population to get an optimum emigration bonus. This is a straight
trade of IU output for population gain.
SCOUT DIVERSIONS: Scouts with an occasional warship are launched against opponents in order to keep them off-balance
while other Scouts fake colonization and shuttle missions.
'STARBURST (A variant of Grapevine): Multiple Escorts are built at dispersed points and hidden in Task Forces up to the
36th turn in the game. On Turn 37, the Task Forces are broken down into individual Escorts which are spread over all
available ST's and TR's. While these are more visible than "Grapevine" colonies, Escorts can fight back and can capture
STRING CUTTER: A warship, often posing as a Scout, sits in a Trip Wire position until an enemy attack starts. The cutter
then moves against the staging world of the enemy attack.
*TRIP WIRE: Border defending warships are parked over an unusable system as if it is a colony. Attacking warships will
strike there first, allowing real colonies time to react.
* Excerpted from Shayne Gad's excellent article in THE SPACE GAMER, No. 10.
CHART NO. 1
HE POPULATION SHUTTLE
GROWTH (1 TR80):
Total IU Output Per Turn
SHUTTLE (1 TR 80, and assuming immediate discovery of another TR 80):
Home World Population
Growth and Imports
(Plus In-transit Growth)
Home World Total IU Output
World No. 2 Population
Growth and Imports
(Plus In-transit Growth)
World No. 2 Total IU Output
Total IU Output Per Turn
CHART No. 2
SINGLE WORLD GROWTH VS. COLONIZATION OF A BARREN
NATURALLY METALIZED WORLD
GROWTH: See Single World Growth Plan in Chart No. 1
BRNM (1 TR 80, and assuming immediate discovery of
a 20 million BRNM and Initial Purchase of Controlled
Home World Population
(Plus In-transit Growth)
Home World Total IU Output
BRNM 20 Million Population
BRNM Total IU Output
CHART No. 3
CAPTURE OF SHORT BOARD OPPONENT VS. COLONIZATION OF
TWO 40 MILLION MINIMUM TERRAN NATURALLY METALIZED WORLDS
TURN TOTAL IU
8 12 16 20 24 OUTPUT
Player No. 1 Total Population/IU
(under Growth Plan, assuming
colonization of TR 60 on
50 60 72 80 86
Player No. 4 Usable Population/IU
captured by Player No. 1 on
Total IU Output Per Turn
50 50 50 50
SO 110 122 130 136 548
Player No. 2, assuming growth
until dual colonization on
Home World Population
(Plus In-transit Growth)
Home Total IU Output
MTNM-40 No. 1 Population
MTNM 40 No. 2 Population
Total IU Output Per Turn
73 78 102 118
type of tactic is used with Dreadnaughts rather
than Escorts. The hitch here is that the player
must stall his opponent into not taking the
offensive, and not thinking defensively enough
to build Dreadnaughts. One interesting way
of doing this is to purchase a few extra Scouts,
and send them to the opponent's home planet.
To really confuse the issue, send an Escort
after two or three Scouts. Timed properly,
this should completely unsettle the opponent.
This system works even better if followed
with a couple of more Scouts, and then a pair
of Escorts, timed to hit his home planet just
after he should have launched a massive Escort
fleet to stop you from building Dreadnaughts.
This system gives you a wealth of data on
his activity during the interim, and either
slows or stops his attempted assaults in your
In the event you capture a population group
you cannot hold or do not want to because of
its small size, burn as much of the group as
possible. This will further unsettle the oppo-
nent, and, if you are lucky, it will enrage him
to the point of gross carelessness. In addition
to these benefits, there is further gain, and that
is the extensive damage you have done to the
opponent's production, growth, and general
battle plans. If, however, the player using this
tactic can hold the center involved, and it is
of substantial size, it makes a great addition
to his industrial production.
Up to this point, the short board opponent
has been the intended victim. Assuming that
the player has been successful in capturing the
major population centers of his short board
opponent, he should initiate Operation Quick
Strike. Operation Quick Strike is an immediate
90 degree turn to the captured short board
player's long board opponent, and attack on
that opponent with all available warships.
This makes for a very short game as the fourth
player will usually capitulate. If not, another
90 degree turn and Operation Quick Strike
is in order. Failure to do so may give the
fourth player enough time to "GM" you to
It should be noted that these tactics must
be changed to fit the player, the player's
situation, and the specific rules used. The
strategic considerations generally remain con-
stant unless major revisions are made in the
rules of play. Other than attempting to remain
totally unpredictable, these are the major
operational parameters that generally increase
a player's probability of a win.
Research and Development Department
Charts and editing by the BLOODTHIRSTY
UNDESIRABLE GAMING SOCIETY
(B.U.G.S.) General Staff:
Doug Anderson (Stellar Conquistador)
Bob Blair (The Blob)
Bruce Mickelson (The Armchair Admiral)
Dr. Bob Polzin (Dr. Bob)
Corwyn Prater (Corwyn of Amber)
David Ray (Heavy Weapons)
Frank 6. Weir Jr.
My forte in wargaming has been the ability
to conduct an offensive with one hand tied
behind my back, supposedly leaving me out
numbered and on defense.
First, I believe firmly in the old adage of a
good offense being the best defense, especially
when the steps you take to gain offensive
power can provide a good defense, as often
happens in STELLAR CONQUEST (SO.
Although running a war cheaply is seldom
a factor in real life, it is very important in
STELLAR CONQUEST. You must use the
smallest fleet and least defenses, but still win
the battles you have to win. After all, SC is
a game of economics. The main goal of war
is simple Industrial Unit (IU) attrition.
The cheapest way of gaining I Us is colo-
nization. Colonization leads to a wide spread
of colony planets. Building missile bases on all
these colonies is expensive, duplicative, and
wasteful. The best defense is a central fleet.
The best way for this fleet to work is in quick
counter-offensives, knocking out enemy ship
base before the ships arrive at a planet which
leaves them more than eight hexes away from
a base, thus eliminating them.
These three concepts, colonization, central
fleet, and counter-attack, are greatly enhanced
by superior movement capacity. Your Colony
Transports (CTs) don't waste production years
in transit, your central fleet can arrive before
the enemy, and a faster fleet has an easier time
ripping off enemy bases.
There is no good reason to move slowly
in STELLAR CONQUEST. Ship movement
is cheap and adventageous. You can start the
game at 3 MA (Ship Movement). From there
I follow a Technological Development schedule
something like this: Improved Industrial
Technology (NT) (followed by industrializa-
tion). Attack Ships (ATK), Dreadnaughts (DN)
(big push for latter about the time I IT is top-
ping out), then 5 MA (ship movement allow-
ance). Unlimited Ship Range (USR), with
Robotic Industrial Units (RIU) following
as quickly as possible. Main emphasis then
switches to industry, though leftovers may go
for Improved Ship Weapons (ISW) and 8 MA
(ship movement allowance). The end of the
game sees unrestricted ship building.
The big controversy among players here is
the decision to go ATK instead of Missile Base
(MB). First, ATK-DN is 5 IU cheaper than
MB-DN in Technological Development Cost.
You do have to achieve level one technology,
but no one says you have to build the junk.
Of course, this is not to say I don't build ATKs.
What's so hot about missile bases? Two
for the price of one ship? Hardly. Your first
six MBs cost 49 I U, your first six Escorts (ESC)
cost 48. Unless you are playing some sort of
hawk, 10 ESC ought to be able to handle
all your defense and offense until Dreadnaughts
(DNs) are built. Six MBs and 4 ESC are barely
enough to provide a weak defense, with no
offense. Sure, you could build more MBs,
but the idea is to have a cheap fleet.
Why build Attacks (ATK)? They cost
as much as 2.5 ESC, but are worth only 2.4. It
takes three to match a DN, but you only get
two for the price. I won't count research
because DNs are necessary, and ATK techno-
logy is a necessary evil of DNs. I will note
here, however, that the ATK does rule supreme
for a large portion of the game, before the DNs
Well, until DNs are built, you use ATKs
to attack. If you don't like the odds, attack
somewhere else. Now, an ATK is worth exactly
2.4 ESC only when it meets exactly 2.4 ESC
and fights to the death, in other words, rarely.
How many times do you see a single ESC
running around? Quite often. Encountered
singly, an ATK can take out four ESC before
it finally goes down. If it takes on two pair,
one after the other, it can kill three ESC.
Double up your ATKs and things really begin
to look good. They can take out 12 ESC one
at a time before both are destroyed by return
fire, or 3JS pair, or two three-packs, or tackle
four with only a single casuality. All these
are favorable attrition. The ATK is concentra-
ted power that stays that way, often gaining
the upper-hand in battle.
Of course, the best way to get favorable
attrition is to take or destroy something while
losing nothing, like shooting MBs (ESCs won't
stand still) with DNs; or shooting population
with ATKs (IU for IU, they do this the best).
You can't get lU-greedy. You could buy a
constant output of two IU per production
year for the expenditure of 1 ESC, which is the
minimum needed to control a conquered
colony. It's worth that. Trouble is, the other
player might want his colony back. One thing
a small fleet cannot support is full fledged war.
What's really wasteful is losing ships shooting
up other ships and defenses, and then not
having anything to show for it because your
opponent recaptured the planet. Burning
population is a good way to damage your
opponent's industry, and we're talking lUs
per production year, not just I Us. This tactic
verges on the dastardly when you're dealing
with NT, Advanced Industrial Technology
(AIT) or a Natural Metallized (NM) planet.
Since I use USR as a stepping stone to RIU,
many crippling attacks can be made deep in the
enemy's rear areas. Although my fleet is
usually smaller than the defending fleet, it is
also usually faster. It can out maneuver a
larger fleet and pounce on a couple of ships
or a totally undefended planet and go to
work. Of course, I usually get interrupted
by defenders, which is when I take off and nail
If you don't have USR or forward colonies,
you can still attack the enemy's rear using a
bridge. A bridge is 1 million people put on a
planet for the sole purpose of extending ship
range. The quickest bridges are pretty obvious,
from yellow star to yellow star: Scorpii-Dubhe-
Aurigae-Scorpii. A bridge is easy to cut, if you
know where it is, but if the attackers grab a
colony, they have a ship base right there.
To prevent a raiding bridge you can create
a moat. With a single ESC and a fleet of CTs
go about building all possible bridge links
from their worlds to yours, and then fry the
1 million people with the ESC, leaving an
uninhabitable void too wide for ships to cross
while maintaining normal ship range. (New
SC rules make this a more expensive stra-
tegy. Ed.) Another use of this is to set it up on
the long side of the board in a four player
game. Use distance and gas clouds as protec-
tion from the player sitting opposite corner
from you and then mount a full scale attack
against the player across the short side of the
board. Such a maneuver may well give you a
large colony base early in the game, though
you'll have to maintain a military stance for
the remainder of the game to protect it.
One other thing you can do with unwanted
civilians is to put their CTs in with the rest of
your fleet. While the enemy is shooting them
up, you can be blasting away at their warships,
and he'll be calling you an idiot for exposing
your transports to fire.
The theory of this strategy is that you can
concentrate on early industrialization using
mobility to prevent hawks from crushing you
in the first few turns. In addition, other
industrialists will have to distract some from
their industry for defense as your constant
probes threaten a serious attack. In short,
keep the enemy off-balance while preventing
him from upsetting your game plan. Once
you start playing your own game, a victory
should come easily.
Minimally Habitable Cluster: A Variant
This variant was designed to promote
early war, lower levels of industrializaion, and
take the emphasis off of NM habitables. It is
also compatible with the tactical level above.
The first TR-40, TR-60, or TR-80 a player
finds becomes his home base, and is treated
normally. Each player is allowed one, and only
one, home base, though he must discover
this planet normally. If he has trouble, he may
elect to take another planet for his home base,
though he still only gets one and may not
switch (ST-60's, MT-40 NMs, and the ST-40
NM make good alternates).
All other planets have one change made in
their star card listing; their maximum habita-
tion limits are reduced to 25% of the original,
rounded down. A TR-80 becomes a TR-20,
an MT-10 becomes an MT-2, a BR-20 NM
becomes a BR -5 NM, etc.
The maximum defenses a planet may use
are set at one AMB and four MB per one
million inhabitants. PFS's may be used in
addition to this on any planet.
This type of game is usually played to the
death, but can be played to a time limit (I
suggest 60 turns, due to the slower evolution
of industry). Figure the winner normally,
except that home planets count triple what
they normally would.
Order out of chaoS
Benefit Cost Analysis in Wargaming
Glenn L. Williams
War has always been chaotic. It has always
been risky. But the chaos of modern war
threatens national survival. The complexity
and consequences of military decisions have
caused military leadership to evolve into
military managership. By analysis and plan-
ning, through compromise if need be, mili-
tary managers now seek to bring order out of
chaos and reduce the risks of their decisions.
With the additional challenge of limited bud-
gets, military managers have to make sure they
get the "best bang for the buck". One tool to
help them face these challenges is benefit-cost
analysis. When faced with alternative weapons
systems, the planner compares ratios between
the benefits and the costs for each of the
possibilities, looking for the most cost-effective.
In the 1960s, the controversial TFX fighter
project (today the Air Force's F-111), was a
pioneer example of this technique. Today it
Wargames can be used to illustrate the basic
methods of benefit cost analysis. Even generals
whose only theater of war is a paper map and
whose armies are cardboard cutouts can use it
to examine the games they play. In this article
I intend to show how this can be done using
recent, inexpensive wargames as examples.
The basic idea is to create a ratio between
what something does and what it costs, to
insure you get the biggest bang for the buck.
The various factors which need to be con-
sidered in that decision are quantified to the
greatest extent possible. Quantifying variables
allows the analyst to compare apples and oran-
ges. Both are converted to a more abstract
concept, "fruit": the ratio between benefits
and costs. Eventually, the decision maker
looks at mathematical models of the alterna-
tives. Critics of the technique argue that
the ratio can be too simple, that it muddles
the fine details and ignores those which do
not reduce to numbers. The result, they say,
obliterates important distinctions between com-
peting alternatives and substitutes an imperfect
method for experience.
A simplified version of the process consists
of several steps:
1. Define the objectives precisely. The
definitions should be complete enough that the
analysis flows directly from them.
2. List each alternative that will accomplish
3. For each alternative, list the benefits
it will provide. As much as possible, these
benefits should be expressed in numerical form
to help the analyst. Sometimes, measuring the
benefits is more complex than estimating
kiloton yields of various ICBM warheads. For
example, how can an analyst even begin to
quantify the benefit derived when a nuclear
aircraft carrier "shows the flag" in a foreign
port? What is the psychological benefit of a
Minuteman III missile in a newly hardened
silo? Sometimes, the numbers hide the fact
that two different things are being measured
along two different scales which do not directly
correlate to. each other.
4. Discover all the relevant costs for each
alternative. These include not only production
and purchase costs, but repair and upkeep over
the life of the system. There are also "oppor-
tunity costs"; in buying one thing, the pur-
chaser has lost an opportunity to buy some-
thing else. Money spent on an MX missile
system, for example, is not available if there
is a sudden need to fund fusion power research.
Some costs, as some benefits, cannot be re-
duced to numbers. An example is the "spill
over" effect, a term used for side effects
not directly related to the problem at hand.
American politicians who make military con-
tract decisions with an eye toward future
elections are considering this effect. We may
not agree with such costs, or the weight given
them, but they are real costs within the con-
text of the decision process.
5. Examine the constraints or limits on the
decision. In wargaming terms, this means
the player must carefully read the rules, noting
such things as terrain effects and stacking
limits. In a strategic nuclear context, one
constraint is the American policy decisions
should not appear to be aggressive. That
constraint limits some alternative deployments
for ICBMs, and recently was an issue in the
SALT negotiations as the Soviets questioned
our Shuttle program.
6. Devise a mathematical model of the
benefits and costs which yields a simple ratio
for each of the alternatives. The model-making
process actually begins with step 1, and is
refined at this step. One important feature of
the model is explicit. The quality of an analysis
depends directly upon the assumptions that
underlie it - that were used to simplify the
mass of data, parameters, etc. the analyst had
to distill. Too often, the assumptions found on
page one are the facts of page three, and the
"too difficult to analyze" becomes "trivial"
a few pages later.
7. Select the alternative with the highest
ratio of benefits to costs. Having made that
choice, the analyst often looks over the ranking
to see if it also makes intuitive sense. A very
precise analysis can lead to a very precise
8. Test the selection. A technique fre-
quently used is "sensitivity analysis". The
assumptions are changed to see how sensitive
the outcome is to those changes.
As a beginning exercise, consider a rela-
tively simple game, SPI's "space capsule"
THE CREATURE THAT ATE SHEBOYGAN.
In this game, a creature of unknown charac-
teristics is stomping around the downtown
area of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, razing buildings
and scaring the populace. The opposing player
represents the municipal government attemp-
ting to bring the creature under control with
national guard infantry, artillery and tanks,
plus the police with their cruisers and heli-
copters. The objective for the human player
is straight forward: kill the creature before it
destroys a specified number of buildings and
people. The human player knows only that
the creature has a fixed number of points to
allocate among: 1) movement; 2) attack;
3) defense; 4) building destruction; and 5) spe-
cial abilities such as fire breathing, flying, net
weaving or great height. The actual allocation
is discovered the hard way, in battle when the
creature uses the ability.
Human units have three characteristics:
1) combat strength; 2) range of weapons; and
3) movement allowance. The human player,
like the creature, is given a set number of
points with which to purchase a suitable force
to oppose the monster. The cost of each unit
is its combat strength. A police cruiser with a
combat strength of one costs one, a national
guard tank with a combat strength of six
costs six. Table One lists the human units
and their characteristics. Since human units
also have special abilities, these need to be
mentioned: Police can move populace counters
at a higher than normal movement rate. Heli-
copters pay no terrain costs. National guard
infantry may make suicide close assaults at
In game terms, the creature's defense
strength must be reduced to zero. There is no
Fabian strategy of retreat in this game, only
combat will achieve the objectives. The beast
enters from a pre-selected map edge which is
not known to the human when he deploys.
The assumptions of our model are that combat
strength and mobility are equally important,
since the human units do not know from where
the attack will come. A second assumption is
that special abilities are of minor importance
(a simplifying but dangerous assumption). A
third assumption, which will be changed later,
is that range initially has no value.
The creature's objective is to amass victory
points. It receives 3 points for each low build-
ing, 5 for each high building, 5 for each populace,
and one for each human combat strength point
Now let us insert what we know into the
benefit cost analysis process:
1. The objective is to kill a creature which
can enter from any direction.
2. The alternatives are the various types
of units which may be purchased.
3. Benefits are the unit characteristics
printed on the counters and listed in Table
One. Special abilities are ignored for the
4. Cost is equal to the unit combat strength.
5. The constraints (other than the rules
themselves) are the limit to the number of
combat points available for purchase.
6. The mathematical model for these
units is shown in formula no. 1 .
7. Table one shows the computed ratios
for this simple model. The higher the ratio,
the more cost-effective the unit is.
8. Following this analysis, the player
would first buy police helicopters, then police
cars, then national guard infantry, followed
by tanks and finally, artillery. However, there
are two obvious flaws in this analysis. First,
the effects of range were assumed away. In the
game's combat system, a unit attacking with
ranged combat ignores adverse combat results.
In addition, range can offset some of the crea-
ture's mobility. Second, an important con-
straint of the game rules is the stacking limit
of two units per block. A force composed
entirely of police cars could never bring enough
force to bear to destroy the creature before
it did its damage.
To illustrate how altering the assumptions
or the model changes the analysis, consider one
change: combat ability can be expressed as
the product of combat strength and range.
That change alters the cost benefit ratios.
The new formula is shown in formula no. 2.
Table One shows these new ratios in parenthe-
ses next to the old ratios. The analysis now
reflects the adage that discretion is the better
part of valor: with mobility and the ability
to strike from outside the creature's grasp,
units are more powerful and a little safer.
Because of their movement and low combat
strength, helicopters are still a very good buy.
This type of change to test the model is called
"sensitivity analysis", and this model was
obviously very sensitive to changes. This is
shown very well in the dramatic change in
value for the national guard artillery unit.
Assumptions, thus, are crucial. That is why
they must be made explicit. The analysis could
be extended by taking into account special
abilities, terrain effects on movement and
combat, and line of sight, which reduces the
value of ranged combat by limiting it.
Most games are not as simple as CREATURE,
and even that game is not as simple as the
Benefit Cost R
atio = Combat Strength + Movement Allowance
- (Combat Strength x Range) + Movement Allowance
THE CREATURE THAT ATE SHEBOYGAN
Combat Movement Cost
Strength Range Allowance Effectiveness
Nat'l Guard Inf
Nat'l Guard Tanks
Nat'l Guard Arty
1 2 7 8.0 (9.0)
1 1 3 4.0(4.0)
3 1 3 2.0 (2.0)
6 2 5 1.8(2.8)
5 6 2 1.4(6.4)
Cost Effectiveness =
Versatility x (Combat Strength + Movement + Conversion)
preceding illustration. Special abilities can be
extremely hard to quantify, yet have a major
impact on the relative values of units. Very
often such unique effects are found in the
terrain rules, particularly noticeable in games
which impose varying costs for infantry and
armor to enter the same terrain. Sometimes
the effects are extraordinarily complex, such as
the ability of Warp Line Generators in HOLY
WAR to create new paths of rapid movement
for other units in the game. One game where
these effects are treated very well is ICE WAR,
with its terrain conversion feature.
Recently, an issue of TSG carried an article
using elementary benefit cost analysis in
examining alternative tactics and relative unit
values in ICE WAR. One feature of the game
noted in the article but not directly incor-
porated into the author's model, was terrain
conversion. ICE WAR simulates a raid on the
Alaskan oilfields near Deadhorse from across
the polar ice. Units are sleds (big snowmobiles),
hovercraft, and more conventional infantry,
tanks, and VERTOL transports. The game
also incorporates orbiting surveillance and
weapons systems. Since the game assumes
widespread use of tactical nuclear weapons
in a frozen environment, floes of ice and
tundra may melt, changing their terrain charac-
ter. This feature is terrain conversion. Ice
becomes open water, tundra becomes mud.
The victory conditions for the invading
ESA player depend solely on the number of
oilwells he can destroy. For the defending
American player, the objective is to limit the
damage. Oilwells are destroyed by converting
the terrain of their hex. There are no victory
points for destroying enemy units, nor is there
a time limit which either player must race
Terrain conversion is a side effect of combat,
and has three uses in the game: 1) it is the
only means by which the oilwells can be
destroyed; 2) unfavorable attacks can be
converted to favorable attacks if the defending
unit is especially sensitive to such changes
(such as infantry caught on melting ice); and
3) conversion can limit the mobility of an ene-
my force and channel its attacks, particularly
when the force is sled-heavy.
There are four attributes to measure for
each ICE WAR unit: 1) combat strength;
2) movement allowance; 3) the ability to
convert terrain; and 4) the effect conversion
has on the unit's ability to move and fight.
I call this last attribute "versatility."
The objectives of the game require terrain
conversion be a feature of the model we build.
Assumptions relating the benefits and costs
also need to be specified. The first assumption
is that each attribute is of equal importance.
This assumption is necessary because the
player assembles his force with only a slight
knowledge of the nature of his opposition.
In the face of uncertainty, each factor is
assumed to have equal weight until proven
otherwise by experience. Second, while com-
bat strength, mobility and the ability to convert
terrain are directly measurable (from the coun-
ter itself or by inspection of the terrain conver-
sion table), versatility is a modifier of the
other three. The simplest way to modify them
: UNIT VERSATILITY
Effect of Conversion
Area of Map Area of Ma|
May not enter water,
are "stuck" in mud-
may then only attack
the surrounding six
less than .01
Conversion has no
effect - before and
after may only enter
tundra and mud
Before conversion may
enter any hex on the
map, after only mud
Team C/E =
rMin Vers x (Sum of Combat + Trans. Mvmt + Team Conv)n +
TABLE THREE ICE WAR: COST EFFECTIVENESS RATIOS FOR ESA UNITS
Hover Transport 1.0 1.0
Armored Hover 1.0 3.0
is to find some multiplier that shows the
general nature of the effect.
The effect of terrain conversion varies with
each type of unit. Sleds may not enter a con-
verted terrain hex, while hovercraft ignore
conversion completely. Tanks may not enter
ice or water, but may move through tundra
or mud. Infantry can enter ice, tundra or mud,
but not water. One way to measure this
effect is to count the hexes a unit may enter
before any hex on the map is converted, then
express that as a percentage of the total map
area. Next, count the number of hexes the
unit could enter or attack if every hex on the
map were converted, then express that as a
percentage of the total map area. The versa-
tility is found by averaging those two percen-
tages. Table Two shows the versatility for
each type of unit. Since VERTOLS are not
combat units, they are not being considered,
but the technique is the same.
Terrain conversion as an attribute is not
readily measurable from the unit counter.
To arrive at a point value for it, consider the
highest number on a die roll that would result
in conversion if the unit were to attack by
itself. For example, a tank with a combat
strength of six converts terrain on a roll of one
through four, so its terrain conversion value
Cost in ICE WAR, unlike in CREATURE,
is not an expression of combat strength, but an
abstract measure of relative worth (see the
Designer's Introduction in TSG 18). It is
functionally an economic factor since it is
used to allocate a limited resource -- the fixed
number of points with which a player may
build his army.
All of the features needed to build a mathe-
matical model of ICE WAR ground combat
units are now present. Missile sleds and missiles
are beyond the scope of this analysis, but the
reader may wish to attempt to add them to
this model. The model quantifies the unusual
terrain effects plus the other more conventional
characteristics. It is more complex than that of
Tony Watson's analysis in TSG 22, but com-
plexity comes with a price: the extra effort
may not yield appreciably superior results. See
formula no. 3.
Table Three gives the resulting ratios as well
as the unit values used to compute them.
In addition, units are ranked in descending
order of cost-effectiveness.
There are two observations that can be
made about the results in Table 3. First, for
the invader, tanks and infantry are useless
without transports. Tanks cannot cross the
ice, while infantry do so too slowly. Since
they require a transport, a team approach
might be more useful. Perhaps we should
change the assumptions and try to derive
team cost effectiveness ratios. That would
expand the definition of a weapons system
from a single combat unit to a package of units
which are used together.
Second, a seemingly weak unit, the hover-
craft transport, has emerged as the single
most cost effective unit in the game. Is it
really a good buy? Sensitivity analysis could
help examine its relative worth. Since time and
stacking are not constraints in the game,
mobility and versatility might not have the
same weight as combat and conversion capa-
bility. However, the hover is cheap. It can go
anywhere, and even a weak unit has a chance
for conversion. When combined with an effec-
tive passenger that could help support break-
throughs and also destroy oilwells, the high
value of the hover might make more sense.
Once again, a team approach might be more
The team approach is more complicated
than simply adding two cost effectiveness
ratios together. The relationship between two
parts of a whole is not usually their sum.
Because the game rules have constraints which
prohibit combat by a passenger on the turn it
dismounts, a transport might have to initiate
a breakthrough or defend by itself. Otherwise,
combat strength is additive. The terrain conver-
sion feature is nearly additive, as inspection of
the chart will show.
Movement also is not quite so simple as
addition. A passenger unit may not move
the turn it dismounts, so mobility is more a
function of the transport's movement allow-
ance than the passenger's. Versatility itself
is no greater than the weakest link in the team.
All units should be able to join in battle, a
consequence of the team assumption. The
final ratio will be the average of team effec-
tiveness and that of the transport alone (be-
cause of the turns it might have to move and
fight unsupported by its passenger). Given
these assumptions, the model is shown in
formula no. 4.
Table Four shows the results of this ap-
proach. Once again the teams are ranked
according to cost effectiveness. There are
four teams shown, the combinations possible
with two types of transports (sled and hover)
and two of passengers (tanks and infantry).
If the reader analyzed VERTOLS, he might
wish to attempt a similar team computation for
The low versatility of tanks and sleds
contributes to their relatively low overall
effectiveness. Assuming hovers and infantry
are teamed, they are a very good buy in this
model. This entire analysis changes, however,
if doctrinal assumptions are changed. For
example, a USA player who conducts a close
in defense may not be concerned about the
low versatility of tanks because he intends
to fight in and around the islands.
Sometimes, there are considerations that go
beyond numerical measures and are fundamen-
tal to the game. In HOLY WAR, Metagaming's
new MicroGame, one player is attempting to
hurl a star into a sensor duct of the quasi-
mechanical god Amtik, within whose vast body
the war occurs. These Sunthrowers are opposed
by the Holy Band, a group of believers to
whom such an action would be sacrilege. The
game's victory conditions require the Sun-
tbrower player purchase a special type of space
ship, the pressorship, whose function is to move
a star to a sensor duct, then hurl it into the
duct. The Holy Band, similarly, has a special
ship, a StarBuster, whose function is to blow
up the Sunthrowers' purloined star, but if
they blow up the star, they have to explain it
to their god. The explanation requires a ship
called an Emissary of Prayer, which must
be in one of the sensor ducts to get the god's
attention and convey their explanation and
apology. None of these ships types have
really good cost effectiveness ratios without
considering these special abilities. In purely
economic terms, they are poor buys. However,
the player who does not purchase these ship
types, "buys" a defeat.
In HOLY WAR, buying these needed ships
has an "opportunity cost": the activation
points that went to the necessary ships are
not available to buy combat ships, and combat
in the key to victory. In general, if the player
makes a mistake at this point (when he is
assembling his forces), it's a case of "buy now,
'pay' later." No matter what the game, the
same principle applies. This is why some
simple form of cost benefit analysis can help
The preceding discussion has highlighted
a real world technique which military planners
use when deciding what to buy, how much, and
where to deploy the forces. There are other
aspects too complex to cover here. For exam-
ple, in life cycle costing, the analyst must
also consider not only research, development
and procurement costs, but also maintenance,
supply, support facilities, and salaries for as
long as the weapon system lasts. Even the costs
and benefits of salvage or transfer to a thrid
world nation must be considered. A game
which would lend itself to that type of analy-
sis would be SPI's recent game of the Spanish
Armada (ARMADA), where ships have pur-
chase costs, maintenance, victual and munitions
ICE WAR: TEAM COST EFFECTIVENESS
Trans C/E Avg C/E
costs which must be borne as the ships are
Another refinement to the basic technique
is "discounting" future costs and benefits,
reducing future dollar values to present values
in order to account for such things as inflation.
The analyst tries to avoid incorporating different
value dollars into his calculations.
The method of benefit cost analysis has
proven its worth in many projects from helium
production in Texas to L-5 space colony
planning. A wargamer can use a simplified
version of the technique to examine different
alternatives in a game, particularly to get a feel
for which units will prove themselves superior
in the long run. However, there are some
cautions to remember.
The first caution will be familiar to anyone
who has studied computer programming:
"GIGO", garbage in, garbage out. An analysis
and its model are no better than their assump-
tions and the care which has gone into making
them. As seen in CREATURE, the results
can be very sensitive to changes in assump-
tions. Practice in playing the game will reveal
which assumptions need to be re-examined
and which need to be discarded.
The second caution is against planning
for its own sake. It can have a seductive appeal.
Many analysts get lost in their mass of charts,
graphs and printouts. Time can slip away.
Opportunities can be lost because critical
projects never got past the planning stage.
This is the "marginal utility of planning".
An analyst must weigh, sometimes intuitively,
the value of that extra bit of analysis: is the
closer, longer look worth the extra time, effort
and expense? There really is a point where the
analyst must say, "Close enough for govern-
Third, this method will probably never
produce brilliance. It is not an optimizing
method where the best answer of all possible
answers miraculously appears. Compromises
are made at each step to keep the analysis
manageable. By balancing factors, the process
is itself a compromise. Instead of "what is
best?", the analyst must often be satisfied with
"what will do?"
Fourth, the end product of this method is
to help the decision maker make decisions.
As it was presented here, it is a tool to help a
wargamer assess the relative value of the units
available. If the analysis does not appreciably
help that decision, its costs in terms of time,
effort and money, could have been better spent
The recommended technique in decision
making would be to first buy those units
essential to the victory conditions (the pressor-
ships for the HOLY WAR Sunthrowers, for
example). Then, buy units in descending order
of cost effectiveness. Each decision must be
tempered by judgment, as there are unquanti-
fiable benefits and costs. Only the good
sense and experience of the player can temper
the deceptively simple ratios.
I have attempted to illustrate a "real world"
technique and show how wargamers can use
the same method. The wargamer faces the
same decisions in simpler form as real comman-
ders and politicians. Obviously, an indepth
analysis of every game is neither worthwhile
nor even interesting. However, a successful
game is one which compels the player to
assume the role of commander in his mind as
well as on the map. As a wargamer, you are
more than merely a means by which cardboard
counters are moved. Wargaming is exercised
not on paper, but in the mind.
AFR 178-1, Economic Analysis and Program
Evaluation for Resource Management,28Dec73.
AFP 178-2, Wing/Base Level Management
Analysis, 18 Nov 70. Excellent source.
1 5 Oct 64.
USAF Management Process,
Handbook of Economic Analysis, 2d Ed.,
Defense Analysis Council, no date. I got this
as a photocopied handout in graduate school.
It is the single best source I found and is the
basis for the approach in this article.
Herber, Bernard P., Modern Public Finance:
The Study of Public Sector Economics, Richard
D. Irwin, Inc. Homewood, Illinois, 1971.
Hinrichs, Harley and Taylor, Graeme M, Pro-
gram Budgeting and Benefit Cost Analysis,
Goodyear Publishing Inc., Pacific Palisades,
David James Ritchie
One of the small joys of writing for publi-
cation comes when those ideas which one so
casually tossed into the faceless void come
echoing back as new articles from interested
readers who have been inspired to put their
own ideas down on paper. Since TSG no. 16
carried my article, HARMONIOUS FISTS IN
MELEE, in which I made some preliminary
suggestions for incorporating martial arts and
Oriental weaponry into MELEE, I have heard
my share of echoes. Experience has shown
some of the ideas presented in the original
article could do with some elaboration and
revision. Accordingly, I offer the following
update of HARMONIOUS FISTS.
DOIN' THAT HOODOO
The essential supposition underlaying the
inclusion of special rules governing the martial
arts and Oriental weaponry in the MELEE
framework is that martial artists and their
weapons differ in some fundamental respect
from other warrior types and their traditional
slash and bludgeon approach to mayhem. If
the skills of the martial artist were readily
attainable to the mass of characters and dif-
fered only in the degree of strength or dex-
terity required of the practitioner, then simple
augmentation of ST and DX would suffice to
cover the effect of martial arts training. Simi-
larly, if Oriental weaponry were all of the cut
and bash variety, requiring no special training
but only a general familiarity with one's wea-
pons, there would be no point in taking them
into account in MELEE situations.
Yet, there is substantial evidence that the
marital artist is a superior type of individual
in certain respects. The special skills of a 4th
Dan in Goju Ryu are unlikely to be duplicated
by anyone (no matter how strong or dex-
terous) who has not had that same specialized
training. The attainments of the fully trained
martial artist are, in fact, so different in scale
and kind from the commonly understood
abilities of other types of combatants and
athletes as to make what they do seem like
voodoo. To the initiated, such artistry as
that of Oyama is a function of proper training,
not magic. Simply put, all martial arts derive
their peculiar effectiveness from a superior
form of preparation for combat or mock-
The core of all martial arts is kata (form).
Essentially, a kata is an intricate and precise
form of ballet performed according to rigid
prescriptions. The kata incorporates a number
of movements in the form of kicks, punches,
throws, etc. which the pupil must master.
Each movement is performed in sequence, and
judged by standards more demanding than
those used for judging Olympic contestants on
the parallel bars. Failure to place a foot proper-
ly one time during a fifteen minute exercise
can be grounds for disqualification for advance-
ment. Olympic standards merely mandate the
loss of points. Such rigid insistance upon form
is not gratuitous. The forms of all kicks and
punches have been worked out over centuries
according to scientific principles of balance
and movement. The difference between a
punch which possesses sufficient energy to
kill a bull and one which recoils from bruising
a Junebug is a matter of a few millimeters
placement, and a fraction of a second dif-
ference in delivery time. Kata is an attempt to
instill in the pupil the ability to kill a bull
every time by the use of patient rehearsal
to insure the same punch is delivered in exactly
the same way, the body in perfect balance,
the mind at rest, the movement automatic. . .
It can be useful to compare martial arts
and ballet. Indeed, martial arts has more in
common with ballet than modern combatatives.
Just as the prima ballerina polishes each turn of
the leg and flutter of the hand to perfection
until the actual payoff, the live performance.
So does the martial artist polish his routine.
Ultimately, for both individuals, their bodies
begin to move without conscious direction.
The mind and the emotions are subdued
(though always present in the background).
The body is freed from chains of doubt, moving
with natural grace and sureness. The slashing
attack of the beserker can no more compare
with the surity of the martial artist in action
than can the frenetic twitching of Dori-Duz-
the-Disco-Queen compare with Yuriko Kamura's
delicate physical poems.
Now, all of this waxing lyrical may seem
inessential, but when proclaiming a measure-
ment, it is useful to know what is being mea-
sured. Knowing something of what constitutes
the special nature of the martial artist could
eliminate some confusion in the rationalization
of his role in MELEE. Basically, in functional
terms, the martial artist moves faster and with
more surity in certain defined spheres. Within
those spheres, he also exhibits more strength
(as velocity of delivery and improved leverage).
The martial artist may be as clumsy as you or I
in executing an unfamiliar task, but he will
demonstrate magic in the execution of his
A TOUCH OF CLASS
For purposes of incorporating martial
artists into TFT, the following rules are sugges-
1) While employing ST, DX and IQ in the
same manner as other characters, "Martial
Artists" are considered a special class of charac-
ter in that they are permitted certain functional
benefits in combat at the expense of slower
character development. Any character (inclu-
ding wizards and warriors when using WIZARD
rules) may be designated a Martial Artist at
any time between MELEE arena combats or
between quests when playing a campaign.
Existing characters which are designated
Martial Artists immediately gain the benefits
of their class, but lose all accumulated DX
in excess of 12 and '/a of all ST in excess of 12.
IQ is not affected. Newly-created characters
may be designated Martial Artists when created,
without suffering any loss of DX or ST. This
rule reflects the loss of comparative abilities
when one ceases to do things in an established
manner, and begins learning to do the same
things in a new and unfamiliar way. Further,
the intent of the rule is to restrain players
who might attempt to build a normal character
into Arnold Schwartzenbicep over a period of
time and then, unrealistically designate this
muscle-bound moron a black belt in Kung Fu.
2) Martial Artists do not benefit from ex-
perience in the same manner as other charac-
ters. The experience of cut and thrust combat
is, indeed, a vital part of their education, but
it Is far less important than is solo practice.
The sparring and fencing which make up the
main experience of other warrior types is
simply less valuable to a Martial Artist than to
his uninitiated brethern. Accordingly, while
Martial Artist types gain EP's in the normal
manner, the value of those EP's for purposes
of conversion into attributes is lessened. It
costs a Martial Artist 200 EP's to gain 1 addi-
tional point of DX or ST. IQ points may be
purchased at the normal rate of 100 EP's per
3) Martial Artists are the only warrior types
who can employ certain weapons at full force.
In addition, certain weapons (not necessarily
those limited to Martial Artists) require a
minimum DX in order to be used to effect.
Sha-ken, kendo stick, manrikigusari, nunchaku,
bokken, wakizashi, katana, tonfa, sai, jutte,
escrima, kumade and naginata are weapons
which may only be used to full effect by
warriors who are classified as Martial Artists,
and who possess the minimum DX required to
employ each particular precision weapon.
Characters who do not meet these criteria
may not be initially armed with such weapons.
They may pick the weapons up during melee,
but any attempt to use them is resolved at half
effect (round down the number of hits scored
before deducting for his absorbed by armor,
shields, etc.). Further, there is a penalty of
—2 DX imposed on unqualified characters
attempting to hit with precision weapons.
Characters who attempt to employ other
weapons not listed herein, but which require a
minimum DX not possessed by the character,
are penalized in accordance with this rule.
For details, see THE ORIENTAL WEAPONS
4) Martial Artists may perform certain
feats not possible to the untrained. They may
choose a SHIFT AND DEFEND option even
when unarmed. They may also choose a
CHARGE ATTACK option while unarmed.
When choosing a SHIFT AND DEFEND
option, the Martial Artist receives certain spe-
cial benefits. SHIFT AND DEFEND works
for the Martial Artist in the same manner as
it works for other characters except that,
additionally, characters attacking Martial Art-
ists in a SHIFT AND DEFEND may suffer
counter-measures. If such characters miss their
initial die roll to hit, the Martial Artist may roll
to hit. If the Martial Artist is successful, the
appropriate number of hit dice is rolled for
whatever weapon the Martial Artist may have
used. Counter-measures may score hits in the
normal manner. In addition, if the Martial
Artist scores a hit for effect (not absorbed
by armor, etc.) on his opponent, that opponent
must roll his adjusted DX or lower, on three
dice or he is considered "thrown" and falls
to the ground in a hex of the Martial Artist's
choice, but within hexes of 'front' for Martial
Artist. Martial Artists who choose the SHIFT
AND DEFEND or DODGE options may choose
to deflect a thrown weapon which enters his
hex by rolling his DX on 3 dice. Similarly,
a missile may be deflected on a 4-dice DX
check. The deflected weapons fall to the
ground in the Martial Artist's hex. These
techniques require a certain minimum DX,
not simply the designation "Martial Artist"
after a character's name. For details, see
THE MARTIAL SKILLS TABLE.
ARMS AND THE MAN
THE ORIENTAL WEAPONS TABLE con-
tains a relatively complete listing of the sort of
weapons which the average Japanese, Chinese
or Indian warrior might encounter in an adven-
ture set in the peroid 600-1700. These are in
addition to those weapons which are theprovince
of the Oriental Martial Artist. Opposite each
weapon is its damage potential, the minimum
ST and DX required to employ the weapon
where appropriate, the DX penalty imposed
on a character using the weapon to disarm an
enemy (or, in the case of the kumade, to pull
him to the ground) and note regarding special
weapons capabilities. In some settings, a ver-
sion of the broad sword, a two-handed sword
(Moro variety) or even a cutlass might be
included on this list.
Two new weapons have been added since
TSG no. 16. The first is the Kumade, or bear
paw. This weapon is, literally, an iron likeness
of a bear paw affixed to a pole. The purpose
of the weapon is to hook an opponent's armor
and drag him to the ground. The weapon is
easily capable of penetrating a steel cap, and
should be considered about as effective as the
hooks used by the English to pull down the
first line of French skirmishers at Agincourt.
The naginata is a sort of great glave with a
blade up to 4 feet long. Used with great slash-
ing strokes, it can cut a man in half without
much trouble. A more precise method is the
use of the naginata to make a figure eight of
swirling steel through which no attacker can
penetrate. Legend says a Mii-dera monk named
Tajima used his naginata to deflect the arrows
fired at him during the battle of Uji (a feat
which earned him the sobriquet of Tajima
The armor common to the Orient includes
everything from simple leather jerkins to
lightweight Indian mail to the rigid plate armor
first favored by the Chinese. All MELEE
types should be employed. In addition, there
is one type of armor peculiar to the Orient
which is not covered by the MELEE rules.
This is Asiatic "lamellar" armor. Lamellar
armor is a scale type armor manufactured by
binding pieces of steel or heavy hide into plates
of varying lengths (depending upon where
in the armor they are to be used). These
plates are then sheathed in leather and lac-
quered to make them watertight (lamellar thus
being the only all-weather armor). Once the
plates are finished, they are laced into over-
lapping segments using strong silken cords.
The result is a supple, yielding, but almost
impermeable protective suit which relies upon
deflection rather than rigidity for effect.
Protectiveness is akin to plate armor while
effect on movement and dexterity is compara-
bel to chain mail. Lamellar armor was primarily
of two types: Yoroi, the horse armor, a box
type much favored by Japan's Samurai and
Haramaki, the round, less cumbersome foot-
man's armor (also favored by the Chinese).
YOROI LEMALLAR absorbs 5 hits per attack
at a DX adjustment of —5 and allows a MA
of 6. HARAMAKI LAMELLAR absorbs 4
hits per attack at a DX adjustment of —4 and
allows a MA of 7.
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
The Oriental Monk, holy man, lama or
whatever one chooses to call him has been
an object of fascination to Westerners for
nearly two centuries. The often superhuman
qualities attributed to such individuals make
them wondrous characters for use in any fan-
tasy world employing an Oriental theme.
Since such figures are often portrayed as fol-
lowers of some zen-oriented martial art, they
may appropriately be discussed herein.
Generally, Oriental monks are possessed of
special powers of self-control, making them
especially dangerous. The blind monk who
sees better than the sighted and whose inscru-
table wisdom is an infallible guide to success
may be considered archetypal. The defining
characteristic of the Oriental monk for our
purposes might be an infinite self-mastery
born of long meditation upon the wheel of the
universe, etc., etc. The following rules are
offered as a possible treatment of this charac-
1 ) Monks constitute a special class of character
encompassing all Oriental holy men of
whatever persuasion. All Monks are consi-
dered Martial Artists and, rules which apply
to Martial Artists also apply to all Monks.
In addition. Monks are possessed of special
skills dependent upon their IQ.
2) The primary advantage accruing to Monks
is the ability to choose a special option:
THE SUMMON KY option which functions
in most respects like a normal WIZARD
spell. Any Monk may choose to summon
his Ky, at any time. This option represents
the choice to engage in a form of meditation
designed to gather the individual's internal
resources of psychic energy, making the
character temporarily more powerful. It
costs the Monk 1 ST to choose this option
(payable immediately before any action is
resolved). Unless the character who is
summoning his Ky suffers one or more
hits of effective damage during the Turn
in which the Ky is being summoned, the
attempt is automatically successful. The
expended 1 ST is still lost. Once sum-
moned, Ky remains controlled for 12
Turns. The effect is as follows: For every
2 IQ points above 10, the Monk who
summons his Ky increases his ST and DX
by 1 point each. Since summoning Ky is
essentially a meditational technique and
not a spell, both warrior and wizard type
characters may use this option. Otherwise,
treat as in IQ 10 spell.
3) During any turn on which a Monk sum-
mons Ky, that character must remain
inactive. It cannot move, attack or effec-
tively defend. Concentration is considered
to be elsewhere, making the figure easier
to hit effectively. Thus, when rolling to
hit characters which are summoning Ky,
the attacker automatically hits on any
roll except 17 or 18 (which has the same,
normal effect). This rule applies to all
adjacent attacks (physical or magical).
Missile and thrown weapon attacks or spells
are resolved at +2 DX. Attempts at HtH
combat are automatically successful (bot
characters grapple), and the firs
combat are automatically successful (both
combat are automatically successful (both
characters grapple), and the first HtH
attack on a character torn from medita-
tion is at +2 DX.
4) In addition to the special ability to summon
Ky, Monks are considered to live in a
somewhat heightened state of awareness
normally. In consequence. Monks have
their IQ and DX raised by 1 for all saving
5) Those desiring to keep Monk type charac-
ters from being too tough should agree
before hand to limit wizard Monks to the
use of certain garden-variety spells (no
super-strong black magic), and warrior
monks to the employment of certain
limited weapons types or to defensive
Those who read my original article will
note certain changes in approach herein. In
addition, I have decreased the power of a num-
ber of weapons to make them seem less magi-
cal. Based on experience, the new mix of
weapons works quite well. I have incorporated
some of Ronald Pehr's ideas into this article
and I recommend players use his rules regarding
self-damage for bare-handed attackers from
TSG no. 18 as being infinitely superior to my
own initial concepts. I still think my damage
chart in TSG no. 16 is valid and recommend
it be used with these rules. Hopefully, they
provide a more organized framework for
adding martial artists and Oriental weapons to
your MELEE/WIZARD campaigns. Now, if
only Metagaming will come out with a micro-
quest called THE GANG OF FOUR AND A
DWARFISH LAMA ENTER THE GARDEN
OF THE BLACK CHRYSANTHEMUM or
suchlike, I will really be satisfied.
SHIFT AND DEFEND BARE-HANDED
Same as SHIFT AND DEFEND,
but no weapon needed j
J CHARGE ATTACK BARE-HANDED
Possibility of self-damage )
SHIFT AND DEFEND (COUNTER-MEASURE)
Possibility that attacker will be (
\ DEFLECT THROWN WEAPON
3-dice saving throw needed \
i DEFLECT MISSILE WEAPON
4-dice saving throw needed (
} Only Martial Artists with the
DX may en-
ploy these options (or, in the case of j
( counter-measures stemming from
a SHIFT AND
DEFEND, benefit in this manner from the \
\ option). To deflect a
thrown weapon or
n (not spell), the character must have j
chosen a SHIFT AND
DEFEND or DODGE option that Turn. The missile or weapon is deflec- \
ted and drops at the c
haracter's feet upon
a die roll of
DX or less on the appropriate number )
of dice. A character is never obligated to attempt
a deflection. I
1+2 in H2H combat
May defend/attack as main-gauche
Same as for sai
Incapable of killing j.
Same as for sai
See TSG no. 13
See Bola Rules-TSG no.13//1-2
1 in H2H combat
Incapable of killing
Same as for sai
BATTLE AX E+
See Pole Weapon Rules in MELEE
See Pole Weapon Rules in MELEE
DIS number is for causing fall
See Pole Weapon Rules in MELEE
t THROWN ROCK
As per MELEE
As per MELEE
As per MELEE
As per MELEE
j * = may be thrown; * ■
WinterCon VIII: (Nov. 16-18) The winter
version of MichiCon. WinterCon is sponsored
by Metro Detroit Gamers (probably the best
gaming club in the country), and the con
has all the usual features. Info: MDG, 2616
Kenwyck, Troy, MI 48098.
WarCon '80: (Feb 1-3) Memorial Student
Center, Texas A&M University, College Station,
Texas. Board games, role-playing, miniatures,
seminars, demonstrations, auction, films, and a
presentation of micro-computer games. Meta-
gaming will be sponsoring tournaments for
several of its games. This is the oldest and best
gaming con in Texas. Info: WarCon '80,
Box 5718, College Station, TX 77844.
DunDraCon V: (Feb 16-18) Villa Hotel, San
Mateo, CA. The convention includes tour-
naments in Dungeon, Cosmic Encounters,
D&D, and others, as well as films, seminars,
and computer games. Info: DunDraCon V;
386 Alcatraz, Oakland, CA 94618.
' SimCon II: (March 22-23) River Campus
at the University of Rochester, Rochester,
New York. The convention will include tourna-
ments in D&D, MicroGames, Diplomacy,
Cosmic Encounters, and many others. Info:
SimCon II, Box 5142 Riverstation, Rochester,
SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTIONS
ConClave: (Nov 24) Ramada Inn Metro,
Romuslus, MI. GoH: A. E. Van Vogt. Mem:
$6 till 9/1, $20 after. Info: EMU SF Society,
117Goodison, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.
NutriaCon: (Nov 30-Dec 2) Grand Hotel,
New Orleans, LA. GoH: Karl Edward Wagner,
BobTucker, George Alec Effinger. Mem:
$6 till 10/31, S9 after. Info: Tom Longo,
6221 Wadsworth, New Orleans, LA 70122.
ChattaCon Five: (Jan 4-6) Sheraton Down-
town, Chattanooga, Tenn. GoH: Joan Vinge.
Mem: $7 till 9/30. Banquet $10. Info:
ChattaCon, PO Box 211173, Chattanooga,
AggieCon XI: (March 27-30) Texas A&M
University, College Station, Texas. GoH:
Poul Anderson. Films, panels, art contest,
more. Info: AggieCon XI, PO Box 5718,
College Station, TX 77844.
Noreascon 2: (1980 World SF con) (Aug.
29- Sept. 1) Boston, MA (more later)
HUGO AWARD WINNERS: Novel: Dream-
snake, by Vonda Mclntryre; Novella: Persis-
tence of Vision, by John Varley; Novellete:
Hunter's Moon, by Poul Anderson; Short
Story: Cassandra, by C. J. Chcrryh; Drama-
tic Presentation: Superman.
FREEDOM IN THE GALAXY is Simulations
Publication's game based on Star Wars; only
the names have been changed from the movie.
The rules provide for planetary defense bases,
rebellions, creatures on the different planets,
local mobs, hyperspace jumps, robots, space-
ships, sovereigns, secret rebel bases, Imperial
atrocities, the DeathStar (alias Planetary
Stabilizer), interrogation and torture of priso-
ners, and more. The game system is like
WAR OF THE RING, but much more complex.
Several scenarios are provided, but the full
Galactic Campaign game is rather long (esti-
mated playing time 20 hours). It is available
for $20 from SPI.
JOHN CARTER, WARLORD OF MARS is
based on Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom
series. It is not primarily concerned with
character-army interactions, like WAR OF
THE RING and FREEDOM IN THE GAL-
AXY, but rather is a fantasy-rolc-playing
game. It has several versions. It also is priced
Avalon Hill's DUNE is based on Frank Her-
bert's popular novel. It is a fairly simple
multi-player game that emphasized alliances
between the players (the Bene Gesserit, the
Fremen, the Guild, the Harkonnens, the Em-
porer, and the Atriedes). It includes rules for
treachery, spice, storms, sandworms, and
psychic abilities. It sells for S 1 2.
Avalon Hill also released MAGIC REALM,
a fantasy-role-playing game, and WIZARD'S
QUEST, a boardgame. I don't know anymore
Game Designer's Workshop BELTER is about
prospecting and mining the Asteroid Belt.
Combat occurs between mining cartels and
(in the Advanced Game) a government peace-
keeping force. The map is of a small section of
the Belt, and the units include crews, workers,
mining equipment, prospecting ships, transports,
and a few combat units.
GDW's SNAPSHOT deals with close combat
between individuals on board a spaceship. It
is mateable with TRAVELLER, but it can also
be played by itself.
THE KUNUNIR is a new Traveller supplement,
also put out by GDW. It is an adventure aboard
TUNNELS AND TROLLS, an FRP game, has
been revised and re-published, with new illus-
trations. It is available for $8 from Flying
Buffalo Inc., PO Box 1467, Scottsdale, AZ
SPACE QUEST is a space role-playing game.
It is explained in a 110-page book, available
for S9 from Tyr Gamemakers, LTD.; PO
Box 414, Arlington, VA 22210.
ews Sl Plug s
A new, but well-financed game company
called Yaquinto Publications, has started
off with eight boxed games. Two of the
designers, Steve Peek and Craig Taylor, used
to work for Battleline Games, now out of
business. Four of the games are historical
and four are fantasy /sf oriented. ULTIMATUM
is a near-future game dealing with possible
nuclear war. STARFALL is a strategic (I
think) space game. TIME WAR is about
time travel. THE BEAST LORD is a WHITE
BEAR AND RED MOON type fantasy board-
Yet another company has entered the under-
S5-sf-game market. Task Force Games, headed
by Stephen Cole (formerly editor of JADG-
PANTHER), has introduced STARFIRE, AS-
TEROID ZERO-FOUR, CEREBERUS, and
STARFLEET BATTLES. The first three sell
for $3.95 and the last sells for $4.95. STAR-
FIRE is a ship-to-ship combat game, with
scenarios about space battles in a future war.
CEREBERUS deals with the invasion of an
Alien-occupied planet. ASTEROID ZERO-
FOUR is about a war between Americans
and Russians in the asteroid belt. STARFLEET
BATTLES is based on Star Trek.
HERITAGE MODELS SOLD: Our source
disclosed that Heritage, one of the largest
gaming firms, has been sold to a Texas million-
aire. Jim Oden, president and majority stock-
holder, apparently felt this was better than
potential bankruptcy. Rumors had been cir-
culating about Heritage's impending demise
for several months.
THE MERCENARY, a new gaming fanzine,
deals with the smaller game companies. Write
to The Mercenary, 6720 Chickasaw Drive,
Fort Wayne, IN 46815.
DIFFERENT WORLDS no. 4 has articles about
selling game designs, enchanted weapons,
Star Trek, and a RuneQuest adventure. This is
a professional-looking magazine dealing pri-
marily with FRP games. Published by The
Chaosium, PO Box 6302, Albany, CA 94706.
The Case of the
by Tim Solis
This is the city. Los Angeles, California.
We have everything to offer when it comes
to gaming. D&D, WarpWar, Traveller, Stellar
Conquest, you name it. But when someone
gets too grabby and steals them it becomes
my business I carry a badge.
July 9, 9:59 a.m., it was a hot day at civic
center. We were working the day shift on
burglary. My name's Thursday because Friday
was already taken. My partner's name is Blue
Monday. The boss is Captain Big Wednesday.
"Well, Blue," I said, "looks like we better
do what the taxpayers of this city pay us for."
"Right. Which coffee shop do you want
to lounge around at today?"
"I don't know. Better not stay at just one.
We'll look busier if we visit three or four."
Just then the phone rang. Blue and I tried
to ignore it, but the Captain came into the
room and made me pick it up, mainly because
he thought his creditors were after him again.
Unfortunately, it was a citizen in distress.
Everyone in the division drew straws to see who
would go out to investigate. I lost, but I didn't
care. I figured that after we filed this report
we could kill the rest of the shift at the Burger
12:04. We entered Alfredo's Exclusive
Hobby Shop, located on Rodeo Drive. Alfredo's
does a brisk business selling various games and
science-fiction paraphanalia. The proprietor,
a Mr. Dubois told us what happened:
"I opened up at the usual time and went
about my regular routine until I noticed the
back door to the stock room was open. Well,
I got out my inventory sheet to add up the
loss, but to my surprise I got off pretty lucky."
"How's that?" I asked.
"I've got over a thousand bucks in merchan-
dise and near as I can figure they only took
"Could you give us a description of the
"Sure. They're MicroGames."
"Yeah. They're about 8" x 4JS", come in
a little plastic bag, and have on the cover the
"Yeah, it's MicroGame no. 8."
"Okay" I said, "We'll contact you again if
anything comes up."
Blue was looking at another MicroGame.
"You know, Joe, I think my kids would
like this. I think I'll get it."
"I wonder. What's it about?"
"Read the back, Joe."
"Okay, 'The Webbies want your mind. And
unless the U.N.'s daring raid on Mars succeeds,
the Web will enslave humanity. . .' Hmmm. . .
There's only one thing that bothers me."
"What's that?" asked Blue.
"I didn't know the Internal Revenue Service
was on Mars. . ."
Blue took the game and another one called
Melee up to the counter. He put the games on
the counter, kept a poker face, and feigned
reaching for his wallet. The clerk didn't get the
"Will that be cash or charge?" he asked.
Blue reluctantly went for his wallet, but I
went over and stopped him. "Get the manager
over here," I ordered.
The manager came over. How much do these
games cost?" I asked.
"Well, it looks like you've got about six
dollars worth there."
"You know," I said. "This is a pretty nice
store. I'd hate to have the fire inspector come
over here and write up a few citations. Now,
how much are those games?"
"Oh. . . Uh, no charge."
"Thanks." By now it was 1 :30.
1 :40. It took us ten minutes to get out of
the store because a few of the customers
mistook us for a couple of robots.
2:00. We ate lunch at the station. After-
wards, Blue and I tried out one of the games.
"Okay, your move," Blue said.
"Alright. Watch this." I said, picking up
the dice. I rolled a twelve~a hit. I rolled for
the damage and got an eight. Blue's figure
bit the dust.
"I just can't understand it. Where did I
go wrong, Joe?"
"Simple. You forgot one thing."
"Never send a hobgoblin to do a giant's
4:13. We had received over twenty calls
all over the metropolitan area from hobby shops
that had been knocked over for the express
purpose of stealing the G.E.V. MicroGames.
I had a strong inkling that a pattern was devel-
oping. . .
4:34. Quitting time. We were just about
to close up the shop when Blue noticed his
games were missing.
"I left them right here," he said, pointing
at the desk.
"Look over there, Bluel"
In a far corner of the room I spotted a
snot-nosed little kid playing one of the games.
We drew our service revolvers and ordered the
suspect to lie prone on the floor. He complied,
and after several hours of questioning and
threatening to show him old Dragnet episodes,
he finally confessed. I admit we thought we
had this one wrapped up. Not only did he
confess about the MicroGame caper, but we
also got him to admit to three other unsolved
crimes; even though he couldn't have commit-
ted one of them because he wasn't born when
it happenedl I was glad we were finished for
the day. I still had time to shakedown the
ice cream man who would be coming down
my street in a while.
5:03. Blue and I were caught trying to
sneak out of police headquarters after learning
that the snot-nosed kid put the finger on us.
How was I to know that he was the Chief's
9:15 a.m., Wednesday, July 10. I feel
pretty good considering that I had to spend the
whole night cleaning prisoner cells at the coun-
ty jail. Luckily for me, the case of the missing
MicroGames is now in the hands of someone
4:10 p.m., Monday, September 14. I'm
still officially off the case, however, the follow-
ing things have now come to light:
ITEM: The CIA has intercepted radio
transmissions coming from the Ural mountains
in the U.S.S.R. It has been learned that the
Soviets are quickly building large factories in
this area. So far, the CIA has only been able
to decipher one Russian code word: Ogrenski.
ITEM: The FBI has located one of the
missing MicroGames and has turned it over to
the President. Unfortunately, he can't seem to
get it open and has called out the Army Corps
of Engineers to advise him on the matter. His
daughter. Amy, has promised to explain the
rules to him when and if he ever opens it.
ITEM: The Senate committee on weapons
research has obtained a few copies of the game
and seems interested in implementing weapons
of this type, but are unable to do so because
they are convinced that the rules are in some
type of code.
ITEM: Metagaming, the company that
makes MicroGames, has just received an order
for 136 of MicroGame no. 5; also known as
RIVETS. The order was placed by the Argen-
tinian government. Meanwhile, rumor has it
that Chilean agents are attempting to negotiate
the building of Boppers with the designer
of RIVETS in order to keep one jump ahead
of Argentina. Both countries are poor and
cannot afford more sophisticated weaponry. . .
ITEM: Since Skylab fell, there has been
growing concern by some internationally
known scientists that it did not fall by its
own accord. Rather, it was knocked out of
orbit by aliens who, after accomplishing this
dastardly deed, will set their sights on conver-
ting our atmosphere into theirs.
As for me, I'm not on burglary anymore.
My partner. Blue, has been transferred to
traffic control. I'm now in the public relations
division of the department. You know, go out
to the schools, show the kids the right way
and wrong way to cross the street, bicycle
safety, things like that. But I still get home
in time to shakedown the ice cream man
for a free popcicle. That's another strange
thing; yesterday, after bumming another ice
cream off of him, he told me that he had
had it with me and my freebies. Then he said
something about that if I ever bothered him
again he'd give me a Magic Fist. I guess that's
a new type of ice cream bar. Anyway, I'll
find out when I shake him down today.
7776 story you have Just read is false. The
names were changed to protect the guilty
(except the writer, who originally wrote this
story in crayon because, where he lives, they
have to be careful not to let him play with
anything sharp such as a pen or pencil).
Title of Game: CYBORG-The Ultimate
Publisher: Excalibre Games Inc.
Designer: not listed
Fidelity of Simulation ("Realism") 8
Physical Quality 8
Bookkeeping (Player Aids) 3
Rules Clarity 2
Game Speed 8
Game Balance 7
Game as a Whole ?
Anyone who thinks writing a review is easy
hasn't done it. Yes, it's a lot of fun seeing
your name in print, and your opinion on
display. But there is also some real anguish.
It is a lot like receiving a proposal of marriage-
you hate to say "no", but you're afraid to say
This review has been very hard to write,
as you'll see when I come to my conclusion.
Meanwhile, let's look at Excalibre's CYBORG
in several crucial categories:
FIDELITY OF SIMULATION: What is
CYBORG all about? The advertizing can tell
us the whole story --
CYBORG is an adventure game that
pits a beautiful princess, her Amazon
companions and powerful Cyborg guar-
dians against a horde of hideous mutants,
evil wizards and deadly terrain. The
game includes a one-to-one combat
system, 240 die-cut counters, large
playing map and very playable rules.
Obviously this is not a detailed military
simulation, and it would be silly to evaluate
it on that basis. Instead-is it faithful to its
premise? Does it really play like a Princess
VS the Evil Bad Men game?
"Yes. . ." This is not at all a traditional
wargame, and that is a real plus for CYBORG.
Just like Milton Bradley makes wargames,
this is a wargaming version of those childrens'
games you see in stores which feature all the
current TV show heroes. Princess Gloriana and
her loyal followers begin the game on the hex
marked START. Three roads lead from there
to the destination- the Holy City (though
Gloriana does not have to stick to the roads).
Terrain features sound like they came from
Saturday morning TV: the Snake Pits of
Lacnar, piranha-infested Caribe River, the
Hatching Grounds of the Gargoyles, etc. And
the other player, Gloriana's evil aunt Aemulatio
and her Necromancers, is not content to
merely kill the princess. . .they specifically
want to throw the princess into the volcano
Immolare! No WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON
MEN, ladies and gentlemen. . .but it sure
sounds like funl
Forces range from the fantastic but few
troops of the princess - Cyborgs, Amazons,
and Imperial Guard, plus pitiful regiments of
Villagers -to the numberless hordes of Mutants
and flying gargoyles which follow Aemulatio.
Each side also has its resident magicians.
Gloriana has boats and airships to aid her
fight, but these are at the wrong end of the
map - at the destination.
It is hard not to like a game like this. It
is automatically familiar to us, unlike those
other games where it takes ten pages of material
to clue us in as to what is going on. But, there
are some flaws. . .
Combat is NOT person-to-person, not
unless these are weird people-only a single
counter fills an entire village. Magic is con-
ducted by die roll, with magicians having no
choice in what spell they cast. I wish Aemula-
tio had more variety of troops -• just mutants
and gargoyles seems limiting. And I have a
minor complaint about the initial set-up:
Princess Gloriana is supposed to be fighting
her way to the Holy City to assume the throne
of her dead father. Why, then, do most of
Gloriana's forces start with her in the START
box, while only a few are stationed in the
Holy City? Shouldn't Gloriana have just a
few loyal troops with her to begin the game?
But, all in all, I find that I believe in CY-
BORG. I give it an "8" here.
PHYSICAL QUALITY: The components
are fine quality, as can be expected from
Excalibre. The mapsheet is 28" x 23", printed
in blue and brown on heavy duty paper. The
terrain types- river, lake, mountain, forest,
farmland, village, marsh, radiation zone-
are easy to distinguish. The counters are die-cut
and printed in dark colors (red for Aemulatio,
green for Gloriana) that are easy to tell apart.
Unfortunately, the counters are mostly blank
because the artist drew the sillouette low in
one corner, the movement factor in another
corner, and the label in tiny print over the top.
It is hard to tell the counters of one side apart.
The rulesbook is printed on slick paper (two
8'/2 x 11 sheets) enclosed in a protective folder,
and does not contain a single spelling error!
Except for the counter problem, I am happy
with the components - "8".
GRAPHICS: The motif is comic book,
and the artist is R. P. Winther. His work is
almost uniformly terrific. The sole exception
is the front cover art. This piece of art is
probably the worst drawing of a neo-naked
princess I have ever seen. One mistake, but
a big one - only a "6" here.
BOOKKEEPING: A heavy yellow page
holds the C.R.T. on one side and the Order of
Appearance chart on the other. Very nice. . .
but the player aid doesn't agree with the
rulesbookl Retreat rules are re-explained in
a totally different fashion, a new rule about
wounding the princess is sketchily mentioned,
and the C.R.T. is cluttered with gimmicky
symbols: DS (Defender Slain), DE (Defender
Eatenl, DB (Defender Blasted), DM (Defender
Melted), and DD (Defender Disintegrated).
This kind of player aid is of no aid at all -- "3".
RULES CLARITY: In their house maga-
zine. Tactics & Strategy, Excalibre explains
its devotion to "pure and simple" science
fiction games. So far as rules go, this seems to
mean "pure and sloppy". To cite problems:
No terrain rules for rivers, which dominate the
map. Does "Only one unit may attack one
other unit per turn" really mean what it says?
No units may be forced to retreat into fatal
terrain, but a whole rules section covers that
point anyway. Boats are provided in the game,
and an island is a crucial strategic locale, but
no rules are given for landing troops from a
boat. An unclear rule seems to indicate airships
may be attacked in the air only if they are
flying off the coast, while boats may never be
attacked (not even by flying gargoyles). In all
fairness, these rules problems can be settled
by a pre-game agreement among players — it
isn't as if you have to write your own rules.
Still, a game should be self-explanatory. I give
CYBORG's rules clarity a "2".
PLAYABILITY: Easier than most Micro-
Games. Movement is by expending movement
factors according to terrain, with flying units
disregarding terrain. Magic is cast by rolling
a die. For combat, the attacking unit referen-
ces its type versus the defender's type on the
C.R.T. This provides three possible results of
equal probability, and a die roll choses the
final result. With only three possible results,
it is easy to make generalizations. Mutants
always whip Villagers, either destroying them
or forcing them to retreat. Likewise, Cyborgs
melt right through Mutants. Extremely power-
ful units -- Aemulatio herself, for instance - can
be totally immune to attacks from such normal
units as the Imperial Guard or Mutants. This
may seem very simple to most gamers, but
CYBORG is designed to match the system -- the
whole thing works. It is also easy to play,
so I give it an "8".
GAME SPEED: Two or three hours, most
of which is spent in actual movement or com-
bat. This will keep your attention on the
game. "8" here.
GAME BALANCE: I would say the player
commanding Princess Gloriana's forces has a
small advantage. He has fewer but more
powerful troops, and just one point to defend -
the princessi Gloriana's side is more forgiving
of errors, and the superiority of the troops
allows for gaining the initiative in combat
situations. But, I prefer to play the Aemulatio
side. This is most unforgiving - just a few
crucial mistakes, and those Cyborgs can tear
apart the enemy. The temptation is great
to waste strength by attacking piecemeal
with whatever is available rather than to let
Gloriana advance while assembling an attacker
force for a major assault. However, Aemulatio
has those flying gargoyles! These are great for
behind-enemy-lines raids to capture the prin-
cess. "7" for balance.
GAME AS A WHOLE: Well, here it is.
The conclusion. And I don't know what to
say. . .
CYBORG is a fun game. It is a challenging
game, and the believable premise makes it
easier to want to play the game over and over
again. It may look like a grown-up version of
Monopoly, but it is really a good game.
On the other hand, we are all consumers
and the game companies are the ENEMY.
If we cast our economic vote by purchasing
CYBORG, we cast our vote for sloppy editing,
uncorrelative material, and poorly-written
rules. There is already too much of that
in the industry.
It's a tough decision, and you'll have to
make it. Buy a fun game, or boycott a sloppy
publishing job. It would be best all around
if Excalibre would simply revise CYBORG,
edit the rules properly, and reissue the game
in a second edition.
CYBORG is available from Excalibre
Games Inc., Box 29171, Brooklyn Center,
MN 55429, for $8.95.
STAR FLEET BATTLES
Kenneth W. Burke
STAR FLEET BATTLES is the fourth in
a series of games published by Task Force
Games, a newcomer to the wargaming field.
Being the third Star Trek wargame produced
(the STAR TREK BATTLE MANUAL being
the first and the STAR FLEET BATTLE MAN-
UAL the second), STAR FLEET BATTLES
is a significant improvement over its predeces-
sors. It is unfortunate that it is not improve-
STAR FLEET BATTLES comes with a
rule booklet (5" x 8'/2"; 30 pages including
cover), a map (17" x 22", sky blue with an
SPI style grid coordinate system), ship speci-
fication tables, movement tables, and die-cut
counters. The counters are quite thin; you
must punch them out carefully or their tops
will rip off. The rulebook also has problems;
its printing is incredibly small and contains
errors. The speed of light is presented as being
ten thousand kilometers per second, not the
two hundred ten thousand kilometers per
second that it is. The 0-1 range column of the
Photon Torpedo reads "Miss" for all combat
results when it should read "Hit". Declining
educational standards, no doubt.
In STAR FLEET BATTLES, payability
can best be defined as slow. Its being miniature
-oriented means players must take time to fill
in their energy allocation sheets, plot their
vessels movement patterns, and the like. A
movement "mode" system, in which ships with
different speeds move at different times during
the movement phase, only adds to the slowness.
The mapboard proves itself to be too small,
allowing the starships little room to maneuver.
If each hex represented an area five or ten times
the speed of light across, the mapboard would
be all right; they don't, though, so it isn't.
Overall, I give STAR FLEET BATTLES
a "need for improvement" rating. In their
desire to make an "accurate" Star Trek war-
game, its designers inadvertently let payability
fly out the window, and wound up with a game
so complex it makes ALPHA OMEGA look like
KRIEGSPIEL. The only silver lining behind
this dark cloud of a game is the possibility that
someone wiil someday design a playable Star
Trek game, along the Avalon Hill WAR AT SEA
line. Better still, maybe someone will design
a STAR TREK game with optional complexity,
like Avalon Hill's revised BISMARCK. In
either case, I cannot recommend you buy
STAR FLEET BATTLES, unless you are the
most loyal SF&F gamer or Trekkie fan ima-
ginable. Even then, you will find STAR
FLEET BATTLES to be a colossal bore.
The game costs $5.00; it's available at local
hobby stores only.
in The Fantasy Trip
All right, anyone with the TFT Micros and
some dice can confidently state precisely what
will happen when Ysmog the Avid casts a
freeze spell at Curmugeon the Craven of IQ,
DX, ST blah, blah, blah at range yerpity blop.
With these wondrous simulation systems (and
don't get me wrong, I think they're great),
we have reduced the adrenaline-packed swing
of the sweaty warrior into cold numbers, and
the meaty chop into subtracted points on
lucid, stark sheets of black and white. Finel
Although I sometimes wonder if my shivering
worthies would actually hold close to their
hearts the logic of the numbers and really
charge anything as gruesome as a squad of
goblins. At least we can bang on the table,
rattle the windows, and shout to the high
heavens that, b'god, if they had, them con-
sarned uglies would've been whippedl Vodka
the Stumbling lost exactly six strength points,
As I said, fine. But I sometimes wonder
between swings of the morningstar what
ordinary life is like in TFT. I mean, beyond
the walls of the arena, out of the gloom of the
dungeon, away from the stench of the battle-
field. What are those kingdoms like? Of course,
they have high towers and walls, but the
archeologist in me wonders what kind of
lives people would lead in this and other
We picture TFT, D&D, etc., as being set in
a continuum analogous to the Middle Ages.
Now throw working magic in and let's see
what would happen. Several SF/Fantasy
efforts have been made in this direction by
writers like Poul Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin,
and Larry Niven.a former mathematician in his
Warlock series. Niven did a superb job of
explaining the nature of mana, what he defined
as the force behind magic. He explained
how, but not why. Does anybody have any
thoughts on just what magic is? Sure, wizards
gesture cryptically and mumble esoterically
and, well, things happen. But why? Applied
quantum mechanics, ESP, the will of the dread
god Yursomosch the Maladroit?
Let's suppose TFT magic is a fifth force in
nature, unlike strong and weak nuclear forces,
electromagnetism, and gravitation in that, as
Niven said, it is controllable to varying degrees
by organisms, and controls by varying degrees
organisms. Now we have something like
Kirliam auras, a kind of force field which all
objects possess. Now, given our hindsight of
history, what do men (or any sentients) tend to
do with a controllable force? One, they dis-
cover its applications in warfare. Two, they
work on peaceful applications. TFT pretty
well covers the military aspects. But, what
else can we do with magic?
We, or rather they, can harness it to do
work first of all. The easiest way to do so in
the TFT rulebook is with illusions. If everyone
involved keeps believing, an illusionary creature
can do an infinite amount of work at no cost
(other than its creation cost). Illusion slaves
could be mass produced in magic factories,
and nobody in the kingdom ever has to work
again. Notice, the rules say illusions vanish
the instant their creator dies, wills them away,
or goes unconscious. Unconscious is much
different from asleep, so your golem won't
disappear the second the creator wizard turns
in for the night. More on all this in a moment.
What about architecture? The wall spell,
at 2 ST pts., seems like a viable substitute for
bricklaying. What is the load bearing capacity
of a magically created wall? How precisely can
they be placed in creation? It seems likely that,
with practice, a squad of mason wizards could
throw up castles faster than an army of slab-
hauling pyramid slaves. What about illusion
walls? Granted the right properties by their
creators, illusion walls could make up sky-
scraper castles, or even float in air if made
weightless. It would be easier to disbelieve in
a wall hanging in mid-air, but once the trend
was set, the kingdom's inhabitants would find
such structures commonplace. Mind you,
care must be taken with gawking tourists.
What about art? Any dummy mystic of
IQ 8 can whip up an image which is indistin-
guishable from the original, except it would be
destroyed if touched. Anyone knowing the
image spell can laugh at the concept of cameras.
By creating the image in a bottle, you can cap-
ture a scene in 3-D, sound, and smell. These
possible works of art are limited only by the
imagination. The poorest beggar could live in
splendor, if careful not to touch. Whatever
else, these magical kingdoms are going to glow
at night with color and beauty, making our
primitive neon efforts look sick.
As long as there are healthy mages in these
magical lands, there will be no energy crisis.
Light is easy to create through images. For the
effects of heat, real fire is available, inexhaust-
able, and cheap (1 ST pt.). For furnaces and
forges where more intense heat is needed,
multiple fire spells can be used, or an illusion
fire of any intensity can be created.
The people in Cidri are going to be healthy,
for all their fighting. Aid spells will keep the
sick well. Sleep spells would outclass any
anaesthetic yet developed. For critical cases,
a shield spell might screen the victim from a
disease (a kind of thrown spell, after all).
The slow movement and freeze spells might
be refined by grocers to keep food from spoil-
By this time I've probably got a crowd of
booing warriors throwing more than spells.
Grocery magic? Bahl Silliest thing Vodka
the Stumbling ever heard of, but with his name,
he should talk. If this article seems to be
examining something seriously which is only
meant to be fun, too bad. If we can add up
Ysmog's essence in three columns, we can also
consider grocery magic for fun.
Illusions keep bugging me. Extrapolating,
one comes up with ludicrous extremes. Ima-
gine whole kingdomes of nothing but illusions.
Educate everyone in wizardry, and nobody
needs anything he can't dream up in his head.
A palace for every couple, a flying galleon for
the commuter, and worse ad nauseum. It re-
minds me too much of Niven's scenario. In his
universe, when the mana ran out, all the flying
palaces smashed back to the ground and those
high and mighty civilizations fell to sword-
slinging barbarians who'd never heard of magic,
and didn't need or want it. It would be even
worse in TFT. The wizard kingdoms would
grow so dependent on illusions that they would
no longer be able to disbelieve them if they had
to. Along comes a barbarian horde, takes one
look at those incredible towers hanging in the
sky and POOF. The wizards are sitting on so
much air. End of the magic civilization. Evolu-
tion favors the barbarians through the years.
Today we're incapable of believing in magic,
so it doesn't exist any more. Sounds likely,
doesn't it? But, I don't believe it. People
want to believe in magic too much for it not
to manifest itself, if it existed.
Surely we can expect hard up wizards to
create illusion concubines (and studs of course,
gals). What do we call the offspring of such a
Mason? Is it illusionary, real, or summoned?
Perhaps it would be a clone of the real partner,
since the illusion can technically contribute
nothing corporeal. Can illusions mate? I doubt
it would result in offspring (see bottom of page
14 in the WIZARD rulebook). While we're in
this area, can illusion food sustain you, even if
nobody disbelieves it?
The aid spell bothers me, too. Brian McCue
raised an excellent point in TSG no. 22 in his
Three Words. While it isn't usually practical
in small scuffles, with a concerted effort by a
large number of magicians, a single wizard
could be super-energized until he would be
capable of almost anything. He could magic
fist a hole through a mountain, teleport around
the world, or throw spells requiring superhu-
man capabilities which the WIZARD spell table
couldn't hint at. Extrapolating again, we come
up with a rational explanation for gods in TFT.
Simply believing in a certain concept, it would
seem to me, if powered by enough people,
would act as a kind of aid spell. By worship-
ping Yursomosch and sacrificing to him ritual-
ly, it seems like his worshippers would eventually
come up with an actual, if magical, manifes-
tation of a fifty-headed fish-god with hundreds
of arms and a dozen tails. And Yursomosch
would act just as they had imagined him to
(he couldn't do anything else, being a kind of
illusion), so the people's faith in him would
grow stronger, and he would grow stronger,
and. . .you get the idea. If enough people
believe in Yursomosch, he becomes the strong-
est god around, attracting even more followers.
If two kingdoms have inimical feelings toward
each other, their gods fight (being a manifes-
tation of their mass mind) and mythology is
born. When the people die out, the gods go
away. Very tidy, hmmm? Old idea, too.
So what are we left with? Cidri, the TFT
world, is weirder than anyone expected. On
the one extreme, we have sky-dwelling civili-
zations of super-advanced magic technology
which come crashing down if their inhabitants
aren't careful to keep their cities invisible from
the other extreme, club-toting barbarians who
live a crude and pungent existence without
magical wonders. Of course, there will also be
everything in between, and a travelog would
be interesting to say the least. I know one
thing, though. As I look around at our grey
cities of concrete and steel, our cars chugging
along on borrowed time, our blaring electronic
devices, our smog, our endlessly breaking
consumables, and all our sullen-faced, jaded
populations, I advise my quaking warriors,
"You guys don't know how good you got
New Microture Ad
1/300 scale vehicles
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2 ea. Man w/two hand axe, Man w/two hand sword, Man
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TFT 02 WIZARDS (S2.95)
2 ea. Clerics, Clerics w/staff. Sorcerer, Sorcerers Apprentice,
Sorcerer w/pedestal. Wizard, Wizard w/staff
TFT 03 DWARVES ($2.95)
2 ea. Dwarf w/bow, w/spear", w/axe, w/sword, leather. Dwarf
w/chainmail spear", w/hammer, w/crossbow, w/two hand
TFT 04 ELVES ($2.95)
2 ea. Elf w/sword. Kneeling w/bow. Standing w/bow. Chain-
mail w/sword, w/bow, w/spear standing
1 ea. Elf chainmail w/spear kneeling, Leather w/spear
TFT05 LABYRINTH DWELLERS ($2.95)
2 ea. Wolves, Bear, Gargoyles
1 ea. Ogre, Giant
TFT 06 ORCS ($2.95)
4 ea. Ores w/bow, w/sword, w/crossbow, w/poleaxe
TFT07 HOBGOBLINS ($2.95)
2 ea. Hobgoblin w/sword, w/scimitar. Standing w/bow. Kneel-
ing w/bow, w/axe, w/hammer
7 ea. Hobgoblin w/polearm, w/poleaxe
TFT 08 DRAGON (ONE HEX) ($2.95)
1 ea. Dragon, Treasure chest. Gold pile
TFT 09 ORCS No. 2 ($2.95)
2 ea. Great Ore w/sword, w/cree, w/axe, w/swordaxe. Standing
w/bow. Kneeling w/bow
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1 ea. Slime, Mold, Leech
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1 ea. Dragon
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3 ea. Ha/fling w/dagger, w/sword & shield, w/sword. Standing
w/bow. Kneeling w/bow, w/axe
TFT 14 TROLLS ($2.95)
2 ea. Trolls w/club, w/hammer, w/two hand axe, w/two hand
TFT 15 GOBLINS ($2.95)
3 ea. Goblin w/sword, w/axe, w/bow, w/spear
1 ea. Wolf Rider w/axe, w/bow
TFT 16 DRAGON (FOUR HEX) ($4.95)
1 ea. Dragon w/treasure chest. Gold pile
OGR01 OGRE MKV ($6.95)
OGR 02 G.E.V. ($2.95)
OGR 03 HEAVY TANK ($2.95)
4 ea. Heavy Tank
OGR 04 MISSILE TANK ($2.95)
4 ea. Missile tank
Due to the mailing weight of these Mircoture packages,
they must be ordered subject to the following conditions:
1.) Three Microture packages or more is the minimum
order. Orders for only one or two Microture
packages will be returned.
2.) A postage and handling fee of $1 .00 per order must
accompany each order for Microtures.
3.) Subscribers to THE SPACE GAMER are exempt
from the S1 .00 postage and handling fee.
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Rules of Rivets
RIVETS is a real switch. In most other
wargames, the effective strengths of units
against one another are immutable, given,
undeniable -- a T55 tank unit against an M60
always loses (well, almost always). In those
other games, it's up to the players to work
with the units and the unit-strengths they are
given. That's all the players can do.
In RIVETS, on the other hand, each player
decides which of his units will be effective
against which other enemy units. Not only
that, but each player can actually change his
mind about this fundamental game parameter,
right in the middle of the game. This is what
makes RIVETS interesting - and makes pre-
game planning difficult, if not downright
For readers not familiar with the game
situation, RIVETS is a game about a battle
between two teams of robots. The people
have been killed off long ago, but the semi-
intelligent robots don't know how to cease fire,
so they keep on going. Each player selects his
counter-mix from among several different
types of robots: Big Boppers, Jack Boppers,
Rocket Boppers, Dive Boppers, Light Boppers,
and Tiny (pronounced "teeny", of course)
Boppers. All the boppers are controlled by the
player's Bopper Control and Production Com-
plex, or BCPC for short. The BCPC is also the
player's source of replacement units. The ob-
ject of the game is to destroy the opponent's
Before the game, each player "programs"
each of the unit-types he has on the board to
attack one, and only one, of an opponent's
unit-types. For example, I could program my
Big Boppers to attack your Rocket Boppers,
my Jack Boppers to attack your Light Boppers,
and so forth. A given unit can only attack an
opposing unit-type it is programmed to attack -
none other. (There are exceptions, but read
the rule book to find out.)
A player can re-program any of his units
assuming that all the units he wishes to re-
program are inside his BCPC.
Combat takes place at the end of each
player's turn, after he has moved his units.
Any friendly unit which is programmed to
attack an enemy unit it is adjacent to does so,
by comparing combat factors, reducing the
comparison to an odds ratio, and rolling the
die. One important point in this game: if the
enemy unit is nor programmed to attack the
unit-type that is attacking it, then the attacker
resolves the combat one column higher up on
the comba^ results table. This is called the
"combat add", and can be a big advantage. It
can also be a very unpleasant surprise when you
don't get it, but were expecting to.
Given that you are playing a game where
you aren't certain which of your opponent's
units can attack which of yours, how should
you intellignetly proceed? Naturally, since you
can't know what your opponent will be up to
before the game starts, rigid planning is out.
You need instead a set of guidelines and "tricks-
of-play" to keep in mind. I can suggest a few.
1) Keep track of your opponent's units.
This rule can be divided into two sub-rules:
(a) keep track of which of your opponent's
units is attacking which of yours; and (b) keep
track of how many units of each type your
opponent has remaining, and where they are
on the board.
Rule 1(a) seems obvious, but is worth
discussing. The only ways you will obtain
information about which of your opponent's
units are attacking which of yours are by
attacking his units, and noting which ones give
you a combat add and which don't, or by
allowing your opponent to attack your units.
Whichever way you get the information (you're
likely to get it both ways), don't waste a shred
of it. The only way to estimate the likelihood
of success of any offensive you want to make is
to know what your opponent has in the neigh-
borhood that can attack your units.
Rule Kb) is a little less obvious, but never-
theless, important. There are situations when
you may not want to destroy your opponent's
last remaining unit of a certain type. If you
destroy it, he gets to re-program that unit-type
with his next replacement -- and that might
not be to your advantage. If you don't destroy
it, on the other hand, your opponent may re-
turn his unit to his BCPC and re-program it
anyway. Or he may advance it to do whatever
his lone unit can do. It'll help your chances
if you know what his options are.
2) Use as varied a force as possible. This
rule, too, can be divided into two sub-rules:
(a) especially when advancing on the enemy
BCPC, try to have several different unit-types
around, instead of just one or two; (b) don't
overdo the number of your unit-types program-
med to attack one unit-type of the enemy's.
You'll lose the combat add, and therefore the
advantage of numbers, more frequently. What's
more, some other unit you haven't programmed
against will more easily get through and do you
3) Don't be afraid to destroy you own units.
Few things are more frustrating than wanting
to re-program a unit-type to do something
useful, but having one little remaining unit
louse up your plans and require several turns
to make it back to the BCPC. What is the
answer to this problem? A poor-odds, sacrifi-
cial attack - after all, these are just robots,
That just happens to be one of the things
about RIVETS I find especially entertaining
and liberating -- there are no people involved
in any of the combats. All the historical games
from Avalon Hill or SPI, and even the other
MicroGames, involve people: people riding
around in spaceships, tanks or whatever; or
people walking around as infantry, or as just
plain people. As a wargamer-with-a-heart, I
find it very difficult to justify sacrificing
these "peopled" units except under extreme
circumstances. I'm just not the kind of guy
who can advance a truck unit into the line-of-fire
of a whole townful of tanks just to spot their
fire. In RIVETS, though, I don't have a prob-
lem - like the back of the rule book says,
"What else can you expect from robots with
the average intelligence of an electric can
4) Use your build points carefully. There's
no point in turning another Jack Bopper loose
on the board when you have only one other
Jack Bopper left, and its only got one target -
unless the target is a Big Bopper that's pro-
grammed to attack your Jack Boppers, and you
need the extra unit to improve your odds.
Barring that, a wiser course might be to bring
the remaining unit back to the BCPC, then
re-program both units and unleash them all at
once. An opponent with an "unbalanced"
threat (see Rule 2) can get a nasty surprise
5) Have fun with it. This reminder should
go at the front and back of the rule book of
every MicroGame. The game is short and
plays several times at a sitting. Explore varia-
tions. Treat it like you would a game of
chess - after a couple of King's Pawn openings,
try Queen's Pawn, then try the Sicilian, maybe
the French Defense, and so on. You can't
consider yourself experienced until you've
tried a lot of variations.
And don't make winning or losing a big
deal. I'd much rather lose an exciting game
(and start another one immediately) than win
a game which cost me a month's worth of
Friday nights. Life's too short.
■pttars to the Editor
Let me publicly thank Lynn Willis for
responding to my review in your magazine--
a reviewer, like a game designer, needs com-
ment and criticism.
As requested by Mr. Willis, here are my
concerns about the Supply Rule, stacking, and
supply trains in general:
The stacking limits are imposed because of
the "difficulty of supply". Why then do the
supply trains only increase the stacking limits
during combat? The whole matter of combat
and non-combat stacking limits is not dealt
with in sufficient detail - I am somewhat lost.
Only two supply trains are allowed in one
hex per player. What happens if a player who
already has two trains in the hex captures
a third or fourth?
There are no rules for deploying the supply
units at the beginning of the game. Do we han-
dle it like the hereditary artillery, or must
all units be purchased? Can a rich player really
"buy up" all the world's supply trains?
Supply counters have a combat factor.
If a hex containing a sole supply train is entered
by enemy forces, what happens? Combat?
Automatic change of control, since supply
units are "indestructable"?
Why do the supply trains have a combat
factor? Does this mean that a desperate player
can launch an attack with only supply trains?
Can supply trains fight each other?
Supply trains raise the stacking limit in
combat. What if losses occur~can the supply
train be taken as a casualty, and if so, what
happens to the over-stacked units when the
stacking limit decreases?
This is obvious, but perhaps you should
specifically state that supply units do NOT
raise stacking limits of transport units like
I also suggest that all rules pertaining to
supply units be placed in the Supply Rule
section. The combat and non-combat stacking
limit business, for instance, is only mentioned
in the Stacking Section, Basic Rules, pg. 2,
while the other rules are in the Advanced
Rules, page 9.
I also have a few minor points of irritation:
Why are supply trains indestructible? Can't
I at least have a die roll to see if I destroy my
supplies before the enemy gets to them? Why
are supply trains as fast as most armies? Why
do supply trains cost the same to purchase
for every player, when the Transwyoming
country particularly should find it easy to
locate draft horses (after all, they find it easy
to get cavalry for the army)?
Almost all of these questions can be solved
by an individual wargamer, but I look forward
to having the game's designer provide universal
solutions. It is a little nicer when everyone
is playing by the same set of rules.
W. G. Armintrout
I have just read Howard Thompson's edi-
torial article in The Space Gamer no. 24. While
I do not feel that editorials should be written
while under the influence of a severe hangover,
I do concede that your position in that article
might have some slight justification. For that
reason, I wish to repeat the anecdote which
During the second world war, an Army
recruit arrived on Guadalcanal at the height
of the operations against the Japanese. Flushed
with ferocious patriotism, he demanded of an
old sergeant: "Where are Nips?— I want to
KILLI" The sergeant pointed to a grassless
knoll one hundred yards beyond the front lines
and said: "Son, you go up on that hill there
and shout 'Hirohito sucks turds' real loud
about three times and you'll be able to kill
half the Japs on this island." The recruit went
off. About fifteen minutes later, the recruit
came running back to the sergeant, who asked:
"Well, how many Japs did you kill?" The
recruit panted: "Sergeant, I went up there
and yelled just like you said, and all of a sudden
this little yellow fellow with buck teeth, thick
glasses, and a two foot pig-sticking bayonette
on the end of his rifle jumped out of the grass
and came at me screaming "Roosevelt is a
bastard!" - and I came back here just as fast
as I could 'cause I could not bring myself to
shoot a Republican."
Some people think life's a lot like that,
you know, Howard.
A fast comment on the psychology of
gamers: Lawyers visit their mistakes in jail,
doctors bury theirs, and good gamers laugh
their's off; gaming is the adventure of making
decisions and not having to worry about the
consequences because cardboard does not
bleed. Little more than that should be made of
the entire hobby.
As a novice to the gaming field I found
Mr. Thompson's article in TSG no.23 rather
interesting. In "Where We're Going, he suggests
that gamers use more literate tastes in buying
games. I would like to suggest to Mr. Thompson
that it is rather hard to buy wisely, unless. . . .
there are competent reviews of games in maga-
zines like The Space Gamer or The Dragon;
much like the review of QUAZAR in that same
issue. Or the buyer, in the sense of caveat
emptor, trys a new game by buying it.
In addition, my companions and I happen
to enjoy fantasy-role playing type games;
however, we try to be judicious in purchasing
BOy,AFTERTHATPAif\ OF GIANTS AND THE
NEST OF GARGOYLES .THIS SHOULD BE
A REAL PUSHOVER
quality. If anything, we tend to be conser-
vative when it comes to buying new material.
We have gambled, successfully, several times,
but only after much forethought.
Brian McCue's article, "Know Thyself:
a system of personal evaluation for T.F.T."
struck me as a rehash of several past systems
for realism in role-playing that the TSR people
have printed. Of course, Mr. McCue came at
it from a different tack, but it was nothing
new or exciting.
Neill E. Frizzel has a much better grasp
of the Deryni than Mr. Pehr. Consequently,
I enjoyed it much better. I can only suggest
to Mr. Pehr that he read all the material avail-
able on the Deryni before he claims that they
are chaoti evil. The Deryni are merely 'gifted'
humans and possess the same social graces as
the rest of the human race; i.e. - the ability
to be good. Mr. Frizzel suggests limiting
the number of active Deryni, but he, and DM's,
should keep in mind that the Deryni comprise
a race of people. Also, they are a rather close-
knit people who are highly pro-Deryni; if they
do not tend toward bigotry against non-psionic
I liked the review of QUAZAR. I thought
there were adequate reasons given to shun
the game. However, it reminded me of a
review of games done by the college 'zine.
Ampersand. The critical editors of Ampersand
panned everything but games that a two year-
old could master. Then the reasons they gave
for staying away from good games went from
taking over an hour to play to a rule book with
forty-odd pages. I'm not suggesting that Mr.
Armintrout falls in that category but his article
hinges on having that impression come to mind.
Perhaps, his article could have been tinged
with a little less sarcasm and carping; yet have
the same effect of cautioning buyers.
Mr. Pehrl Please. I don't want to focus on
you, and the rest of the contributers to The
Space Gamer, negatively; yet when you suggest
Valde wizards I must protest. I believe that in
trying to create a schema for including book
characters into TFT you sacrifice too much
for the sake of universal acceptance. Dibell's
Valde are not human. They share humanoid
characteristics but they are more like elvish
folk. The Valde are reluctant to kill, yes!
But this reluctance is due to the empathy they
share for the living creatures. The reason
Dibell gives for the extermination of the
Screamers is: the Valde do not sense souls
in the Screamers. The Screamers are not alive
to their sense, and therefore anathema. Then
you focus on the dueltrance. Tsk! Tsk! The
dueltrance is a special rite among the Valde,
and must be prepared for. In addition, the
duels are fought in concealed privacy - Valde
warrior to Valde warrior. I know it is unrea-
sonable to suggest that adaptions of the Deryni,
the Valde, and others like them be done with
more discretion; with other writers who are
unfamiliar with the Deryni and the Valde
making them chaotic-evil or wizards.
Lawrence Henry Apodaca
THE WEBBIES WANT YOUR MIND.
,■■ ■ - 1 ,
OLYMPICA simulates the U.N. Mars raid to capture the Web
Mind Generator from a heavily defended area near Nix Olympica's
massive caldera. The Webbie revolutionaries are deep in their
tunnel complexes surrounded by strongpoints and infantry. The
raiders will use infantry, laser tanks, lifters and the tunnel busting
BOAR drill. If they fail man's future may fall to the telepathic,
religion/machine Web Mind of Mars.
OLYMPICA is the clever tactical creation of Lynn Willis. His
future history of the Martian revolution of 2206 hinges on the
crucial U.N. raid. The game is easy to learn, fast playing, and
challenging. Like the other MicroGames, it is ideal for beginners
and fun for pros. OLYMPICA is the perfect game for those who've
never tried science fiction games.
*24 page rules booklet
*8"x 14" map
*96 unit counters
TACTICAL SPACESHIP DESIGN AND COMBAT.
WARPWAR is a game of interstellar maneuver and tactical
combat. Players design their own ships with offensive, defensive,
and movement capability. Ships move through space -- or jump
along the warplines that connect certain stars -- to gain control
of enemy base stars.
WARPWAR uses a unique diceless combat system. Each player
selects movement and combat allocations for his units. No chance
is involved. . . you must outguess your opponent.
Advance rules introduce Systemships and a technology factor
which gives newer ships an advantage in combat.
*24 page rules booklet
*8"x 14" map
*56 unit counters
OLYMPICA and WarpWar are available at your local hobby, toy, or book stores-ask for
them. Both are $2.95 when ordered from Metagaming. Subsribers to THE SPACE GAMER
pay $2.50. Each order requires a 50-cent postage charge.
Box 15346, Austin, TX 78761
Please inform your readers that they may
have gotten an incorrect impression of me from
my letter (or excerpts thereof) printed in TSG
no. 22. All you printed was the part about
TARTARS AND MARTYRS being "really
dumb," MicroGames possibly dying off, and
the parts saying "I hate your Feedback Form"
and "I hate the name Microtures." Readers
who might infer from these selections that I
was writing a poison-pen (or poison-typewriter)
letter should be told (whether they care or not)
that I wrote a much longer letter than what was
printed, which had a number of nice things
to say. For instance, I distinctly remember
making really polite and tactful and compli-
tary comments on your handling of my POND
WAR piece, on MicroGame subscriptions, on
the art you're publishing, on Howard Thomp-
son's opinions about the Middle East situation,
on the brilliant syntactical clarity of the ad
copy for HOLY WAR, on the perpetually
amazing proofreaders you employ, on Steve
Jackson's checkered past (I assume the FBI
hasn't caught up with him yet), on Ben Ostran-
der's quite valid reasons for concealing from
everybody what the C in his name stands for
(I understand, it's all right, there, there), and
most importantly on TSG's reliable punctual-
ity. Better than punctual, in fact - my copy
of no. 22, the March-April issue, arrived May 29,
fully 24 hours before I expected it.
And to prove I haven't run out of compli-
mentary things to say, I should tell you that
I enjoyed all the articles in no. 22, particularly
Paul Wagner's PARTY BRAWL, which I found
vastly entertaining. Less satisfactory was
"Three Words", mainly because I could see no
reason why Brian McCue had to set his story
after 1992. It could just as easily have taken
When I opened my mailbox today and saw
the familiar white envelope with my Space
Gamer inside, I was amazed. Just imaginel
For the first time in recent history, TSG had
arrived early! I didn't see any signs of a rushed
job, either, which lets me hope you've finally
got things in order down in Austin.
My joy was short-lived, however, when
I read some of the articles in no. 24. Instead
of being happy and content after reading it
cover to cover, I was depressed.
I play wargames-especially science fiction
wargames-to forget about the real world. I
don't want to be reminded that the U.S.
inflation rate is nearing 15% or that the Rus-
sians are taking over the world or that Western
Culture is on the ropes. I look forward to
receiving my Space Gamer because it is supposed
to deal with games, which are supposed to be
fun. For some reason, I don't think I'm going
to have nearly as much fun playing Starship
Troopers now that I will be seeing it as a sexual
release mechanism. It probably is, but I don't
want to see it explained in detail just after
I've finished reading Howard Thompson's
depressing "Where We're Going".
And then there was the guy who criticized
Ogre, one of my all-time fun wargames, because
it wasn't a totally accurate armor warfare
simulation. Three blows in only 28 pagesl
I was ready to throw the magazine in the
trash can. So what if Ogre and GEV have a
move-then-fire sequence? It may not be
realistic, but it fits with the rest of the game
and doesn't overly complicate play flow.
Despite its faults, I doubt whether I've ever
played any games more exciting than the now-
cliche "lunch break Ogre". I don't expect
extreme realism from a MicroGame-and I
don't want it.
In retrospect, there were some bright
spots in TSG no. 24. The four howitzer de-
fense article was superb-a classic example of
what I want to see in a game magazine. And
the Black Hole introduction was interesting,
if nothing else.
I really wish it were so "black and white"
easy to distinguish between a good game and
a bad one. Unfortunately it is not.
First, it is not always easy to look at the
rules before the purchase. If the packaging
doesn't stop you the storekeeper usually will.
And I can understand them not wanting people
rooting through their games.
Second, even if you could read the rules
before hand it might not be of much help.
It takes at least two readings, of most games,
to understand how everything works. Even
then, I've read ambiguous or uneven rules
that, when played out, are quite acceptable.
You can't even rely on a friends opinion,
since his personal tastes might influence his
evaluation. I've played many games that are
good playable games but I don't give them
my recommendation because / don't like the
The best way to buy an unknown game is
a combination of all the above. Play the game
if you can but if you can't, check with friends,
try to read a copy of the rules, even look for
printed reviews. But don't forget what I think
is the single most important factor-the designer
and publisher. If you have had good luck with
them before and know that they are dedicated
to good material then they probably won't
let you down. If on the other hand you have
had bad experiences, don't buy it. They were
probably just out for your money and have not
changed since their last game.
This is where you Metagaming people have
my vote. I have yet to see a shoddy job come
from you and I don't think I will. That is why
a $30 price tag on TFT: ITL won't phase me
a bit. I know it will be worth itl
Wayne F. Cummings
MB" 1 ""
A classic science fiction
game. . . available again!
Fight for control of a
globular cluster — build,
Victory will go to the
player who makes best use
of the available resources
to outbuild and outguess
h is (or her) rivals.
The new boxed edition of STELLAR CONQUEST
includes 480 counters, 17" x 22" full-color map, rules book,
star cards, data sheets, and record sheets. The price is only
$12.95 - $11.50 for THE SPACE GAMER subscribers.
Came design by Howard Thompson; cover art by
When it first appeared, GODSFIRE was hailed as the best
political/ economic SF game ever designed. Now in a new boxed edition-
complete with beautiful full-color cover by Rick Srernbach and
enough components for 8 plovers — GODSFIRE is a "must"
for the skilled gamer.
GODSFIRE is two gomes in one. The basic version is a battle game,
with space fleets and ground forces fighting for control of
fifteen planets. A unique movement system makes true
three-dimensional movement easy.
The advanced game adds diplomacy, subversion, politics — and the
chance of Armageddon. Before you go to war, you'll have to gain
support from internal political and economic interests
(by fair treatment, negotiation, bribery, or force) —
or face revolution.
Components include two giant 22" by 34" strategic maps,
1 5 System Sheets and 6 National Government Sheets; 960 unit counters;
616 Gigabuck counters; and the rule booklet.
Playing time ranges from two hours to all day, depending on the
scenario (from 2 to 1 5 players) that you choose.
Designed by Lynn Willis; edited by Steve Jackson; cover art
by Rick Sfernbach.
GODSFIRE sells for $15.95 — or $14.00 for
The Space Gamer subscribers.
Please send me copies of STELLAR CONQUEST at S12.95 each ($11.50 for THE SPACE GAMER subscribers)
and copies of GODSFIRE at $15.95 each (S14.00 for TSG subscribers). I (am) (am not) a TSG subscriber.
Please enter my subscription to THE SPACE GAMER for months, at $8.00 for 6 issues or $15.00 for 12
issues. 1 understand that this subscription entitles me to the subscriber discount on games I am ordering now.
Name Address City State Zip
Please add 50 cents for postage and handling.
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for creative adventures